Governor Kristi Noem and the press hand her primary challenger Steve Haugaard a perfect issue on which to skewer the Governor, her extravagant purchases of $4,000 rugs and a sauna for the Governor’s Mansion. Noem’s luxury tastes should offend voters across ideological lines, thus providing a campaign message that can keep Noem on defense in front of any audience.
But instead of capitalizing on this easy goal, Haugaard wallows in the usual conservabase arcanery and dog whistles that make it hard to distinguish him from his opponent. His campaign messages following the rug/sauna report have consisted of…
- a “South Dakota First” retweet from some radical-rightwing Trumpist account picking on Noem and trumpeting Tim Scott and the “First Step Act” (if you have to look it up, it’s not an effective campaign tweet);
- a shadowy profession of Second Amendment and self-defense rights (um, Steve, the Second Amendment is about defending the nation, not the self, and even if we accept your misinterpretation of the Constitution, hugging guns doesn’t distinguish you from Kristi Noem, who has put out a lot more Tweets of herself handling firearms and looking cute doing it than you have—and as a bonus challenge for readers, I challenge anyone to find a published photo of Steven Haugaard with a gun in his hands, or even in camo gear!);
- a retweet of a pre-Thanksgiving KELO Radio interview;
- a press release calling on Noem to protect us from “Biden’s Vaccine Mandate” (which she’s done enough to fight to blunt your weak attack on the coronavirus front enough to prevent it from shifting many votes your way)
- and, just this morning, a rehash of Kristi Noem’s alleged failure to protect girls from the menace of “biological males…competing in girls’ sports” (another non-distinguishing issue, because when pressed, Noem will say enough anti-trans bushwah to blunt your attack and keep at least half of the GOP primary culture warriors on her side).
Good grief, Steve, as I said yesterday, the campaign ad on the luxury rugs and sauna writes itself:
The tie-ins between Sauna Queen and Snow Queen are endless. You could develop a whole theme of Queen Kristi ads—Snow Queen, Sauna Queen, Travel Queen, Selfie Queen, Covid Queen (oh, sorry, Haugaard can’t use that title, because Rolling Stone can lead to dancing)—all leading to some great patriotic campaign like, Down with the Queen! or We’re a Republic, not a Monarchy! or… I don’t know—for Pete’s sake, Steve, do I have to come up with everything for you?
Haugaard’s inability to think beyond his standard arch-right echo chamber is the same thing that has prevented past right-wing challengers (Tapio, Howie, Hubbel, Knuppe…) from gaining traction against their SDGOP establishment opponents. Arguing about the finer points of true conservatism won’t win an election; hard attacks on Noem’s obvious self-serving extravagance and corruption will.