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Abortion Ban Flop Caps Case for Distracted Noem’s Managerial Incompetence

You’d think governing with bicameral supermajorities would be easy. If I were Governor, and if my fellow Democrats held 89% of the House and 91% of the Senate, I’d be caucusing with my Legislative leaders every week before Session and every day during, establishing our shared policy objectives, loading the hopper with practical and popular bills, and making sure that everything I identify as a priority for my administration and my party receives the proper treatment—i.e., passage—from our caucus to make clear to the public that, from the top of the ticket to bottom, Democrats say what they mean, do what they say, and govern effectively.

Yet given this easy political environment, Kristi Noem is once again proving she can’t manage her own party to push basic elements of her policy agenda. Republicans shot down Noem’s $12-million shooting range on first contact with committee. Republicans killed Noem’s big Custer State Park Campground plan a week before it came to committee, then trashed Noem’s hastily drafted much smaller replacement plan this week. Noem has lost her marquee school prayer bill. She got her flashy signing ceremony or another marquee bill, her ban on transgender athletes, but that “victory” is marred by her unforced error among conservatives in vetoing a similar bill last year.

And now Noem gets national headlines for fumbling her vaunted mimicry of the odious Texas abortion ban, all because she couldn’t check in with her caucus and line up just one more Republican to second the motion to introduce the bill:

The state lawmaker who made the motion for the governor’s proposal for a heartbeat-based abortion ban to be introduced for South Dakota legislators to debate says that no one else on the House committee wanted the panel to be its official sponsor.

Representative Chris Johnson, R-Rapid City, gave his perspective to Capitol reporters during the weekly legislative leadership news conferences Thursday. They came in the wake of the House State Affairs Committee seeing Governor Kristi Noem’s anti-abortion language die, because no one else would second Johnson’s motion for it to be an official bill [Bob Mercer, “Johnson Explains Governor’s ‘Heartbeat’ Ban Rejection,” KELO-TV, 2022.02.03].

I’d quote Rep. Johnson’s “explanation”, but the Rapid City Republican doesn’t really explain anything; he just talks himself in meaningless circles trying to avoid stating the obvious: Noem muffed what should have been an easy play with rabidly anti-abortion Republicans.

Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-23/Glenham) assesses Noem’s failure on this abortion bill more straightforwardly:

“They [the Governor’s office] showed up late to the game last minute, even last hour type stuff and it didn’t pass,” said House Speaker Spencer Gosch, a Republican. “Simple as that.”

Gosch said he shared Noem’s goal of banning all abortions but that the language she proposed would “jeopardize” the state’s involvement in a separate legal battle with Planned Parenthood, which operates the state’s only clinic that regularly provides abortions [Stephen Groves, “Gov. Noem’s Abortion Ban Stifled by Republican Lawmakers,” AP, 2022.02.02].

Noem whimpered some narcissist avoidance to the press today about Gosch having “an issue” with her, “and I don’t know what it is”. The problem seems pretty obvious: Gosch was listening to the caucus and its favored radical theocrats and Noem wasn’t. Dale Bartscher, who represents the influential anti-abortion lobby in South Dakota, lays out the basic strategic error in Noem’s proposal:

Dale Bartscher is the Executive Director of South Dakota Right To Life. He says their number one goal is the case Planned Parenthood [vs.] Noem.

“We believe that the passage of a Texas-style heartbeat bill will moot the litigation we currently have in the 8th circuit court,” Bartscher says. “For that reason we cannot support a Texas-style heartbeat bill verbiage. That’s what the draft was. So, we’re waiting for her bill to drop to see if she’s altered it and we can get behind it and support it. Support a heartbeat bill” [Lee Strubinger, “Republicans Reject Governor’s ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Abortion Ban,” SDPB, 2022.02.02].

As with the shooting range and the campground, Noem’s fundamental error appears to be that she failed to pay attention to members of her own base. She’s evidently so busy flying around the country, raising money from coastal elites, boosting her brand on Fox News, and listening to all of the out-of-state advisors whom she’s imported to work on her Presidential bid that she is forgetting to talk to the friendly South Dakota lawmakers and lobbyists who can tell her what will pass and what will not.

Maybe Noem thinks that, with her massive cash flow from Texas and Florida, she doesn’t have to listen to South Dakota Republicans any more. Maybe she thinks she’s such a shoo-in for reëlection as Governor that she can turn her attention entirely to the White House she wants to make Whiter in 2024. Maybe she really has forgotten that politics isn’t just a pageant; sometimes, you have to do the work.

Observers less self-obsessed than Kristi can see a Republican Governor in a safe Republican state failing to persuade Republican legislators to vote for her Republican priorities… and in that failure, they can see a Republican who ought to be replaced by a Republican with basic management skills.


  1. O 2022-02-03 20:11

    Fortunately for the governor, the GOP rank-and-file doesn’t consider effective governance an election issue.

  2. Nick Nemec 2022-02-03 20:19

    Kristi Noem is the leader of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

  3. Mark Anderson 2022-02-03 20:21

    She also just signed tnto law a protection for all those girls who are being overwhelmed in sports by all thse tranz kids. Where I might ask?
    If any South Dakota women need an abortion they can fly to the free state of Minnesota or any other Democratic state where they still have equal rights or they can remain in the red state where their rapist has the advantage. After all, the production of that union might become President of the United States

  4. sx123 2022-02-03 21:13

    One doesn’t have to pass bills, just introduce them to show he/she is fighting for South Dakotans.

    And then point fingers saying the evil other people didn’t get the job done.

  5. SuperSweet 2022-02-04 01:36

    …ought to be replaced by a Democrat.

    Vote blue no matter who.

  6. ABC 2022-02-04 03:40

    Vote Blue always!

    I don’;t believe in bipartisan ship.

    100% of people should be listened to.

    Jamie Smith and anyone wanting to beat Thune Noem Rusty Johnson—-take KNEIP lessons! Turn every county blue! Turn Rapid and HahaMini blue!

  7. Richard Schriever 2022-02-04 06:30

    Mark – where’s the airport on the rez, or @ and are you buying tickets, paying hotel bills etc?.

    Or are you taking the batterer husband or the incestuous rapist pappa on a hunting trip while the wife and/or daughter “sneak off” to Mpls. for the weekend? Gonna fund that whole process as well?

  8. larry kurtz 2022-02-04 07:47

    The military loves TRICARE but through sequestration the Republican Party managed to cripple both the Veterans Health Administration and the Indian Health Service so GOP donors could push for privatization. There is a growing movement among Democrats and others to fund Medicare for all but I like the idea of rolling the funding for Obamacare, TRICARE, Medicare, the Indian Health Service and the Veterans Affairs together then offering Medicaid for all by increasing the estate tax, raising taxes on tobacco and adopting a carbon tax.

    Reproductive services are available for tribal enrollees completely outside Mrs. Noem’s reach.

    The Great Plains Area Indian Health Service (IHS) provides health services to approximately 122,000 Indian people who reside within nineteen service units. There are sixteen reservations: eight in South Dakota. four in North Dakota, three in Nebraska, and one in Iowa. There are also three non-reservation service units: Rapid City. South Dakota: Trenton Service Unit. North Dakota: and Northern Ponca Service Unit, Nebraska. The Great Plains Area IHS also provides health services to approximately 6,000 Native Americans who are not counted in the user population of the Area. This population does not reside within any service unit; however, they meet the IHS eligibility criteria for health services provided at IHS or Tribally operated direct care facilities. The largest concentrations of the non-service unit eligible are found in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Bismarck and Grand Forks, North Dakota.

  9. John 2022-02-04 07:58

    Snowjob Noem has no vision for South Dakotans. No vision to improve the economy, peoples health, peoples lives.
    ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish.’

    Healthcare. Before the US has national healthcare it will have national privatized healthcare. Because the US eventually does the right thing AFTER trying everything else.
    Bush means tested VA healthcare. Trump began a pilot project privatizing Medicare, and Biden is continuing it. Don’t get sick.

  10. 96Tears 2022-02-04 10:35

    Here’s the version from that Sioux Falls newspaper on this week’s tit-for-tat. Great quotes!
    Tensions between Gov. Noem, House Speaker Gosch boil over this week at Capitol
    By Joe Sneve

    PIERRE — An already acrimonious relationship between Gov. Kristi Noem and the South Dakota House Speaker further eroded this week as the two Republicans accused one another of putting politics before governing.

    Growing tensions between the governor and House Speaker Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham, boiled over Thursday as the two continued feuding over how the Legislature has handled both an abortion restriction proposal coming from Noem’s office as well as the potential impeachment of the South Dakota attorney general.

    “I’m screwed either way, no matter what I say,” the governor told reporters in reference to what she characterized as a “strained” relationship with Gosch.

    Those remarks specifically referred to Gosch last year accusing the governor of meddling in the aftermath of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s fatal crash in 2020. But she also used social media this week to say Gosch had publicly lied about a measure her office was pushing for that would have banned abortions at the time a heartbeat can be detected in a fetus.

    That prompted the Speaker to issue a statement earlier Thursday accusing Noem of bringing hard-ball, petty politics to Pierre with her from the Beltway, where she served in the U.S. Congress for eight years.

    “As for the personal attacks, DC politics are not welcome here,” Gosch said. “South Dakotans deserve better from their elected officials, and that’s what they can expect from their Legislature as we continue the crucial work of ending abortion in America.”

    Noem said generally her relationship with other Republican leaders in the House, as well as the Senate, is positive, but said it’s obvious Gosch has chosen to repeatedly attack her for reasons she’s not aware of.

    “He’s looking for a reason to blame me for everything and it’s weird because we agree on probably 90% of policy issues,” he said. “There’s something, some reason this guy doesn’t like me and it seems like a personal agenda but I don’t know what it is.”
    Fer gosh sakes, Gosch! You made her lyin’ eyes cry!

    Boo hoo, little baby snow queen. Now go get a tissue and get back on the campaign plane. You’ve got more fat cats to milk (bilk?). Time to cowgirl up, sweetie!

  11. John 2022-02-04 12:06

    The voters KNEW snowjob Noem was incompetent when they elected her governor. She was incompetent as a US representative. She passed one bill. That bill’s language, format, imprecision, and deference results in that the bill has yet, and may never be fully implemented.
    Snowjob Noem and killer Ravnsborg were made for each other. Thank goodness a few in the legislature are beginning to stand up to their assaults on democracy and truth.

  12. Mark Anderson 2022-02-04 12:20

    Jezz, check with Planned Parenthood Richard they can give you the lowdown. I used the term fly metaphorically. A Volkswagen or a Mini Cooper (for those who can afford it), would be fine. It’s the red states that are giving those republican rapist religioneer’s ideas on how to repopulate America. They won’t be replaced.
    My wife worked as an Education Director at Planned Parenthood for 20 years, check with St. Louis, their on top of this. More is coming every day. They can tell you where to go for help. 5

  13. 96Tears 2022-02-04 14:37

    More whine with her cheese: “I know Speaker Gosch has an issue with me and I honestly don’t know what it is. I do not, cannot think of a reason why he is so offended by me in what I do, but I am following the exact same protocols as other governors,” Gov. Noem said. KELO – Noem addresses issues with House Speaker.

    This is golden and a great example of “when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”

    Kristi’s problem is even with a new state airplane, a new $500,000 fence around the governor’s palatial estate, a $150,000 TV studio for Fox News, free security on national campaign travels (courtesy of the S.D. Highway Patrol), a nice paycheck to globe trot and meet fat cat donors, the finest Trumpian staff from D.C. to populate state offices, a minimized press corp in Pierre and a 91 percent GOP majority of the state legislature, she remains blind to the hole she created. Hey, wait until they get the hard evidence you are responsible for that phone bank intervention and they get the results of the April ethics committee hearings. You might want to reconsider running for a second term.

    Buy a clue, Kristi. They are sick of your arrogance and your self-inflicted gaffes. They’re sick of your ridiculous absences and gimmicky legislation to run for president. The bonus is they also are politically at war with women 24/7. They no longer view you as an asset.

    They don’t want you and Ravnsborg on the general election ballot this year. You’re too much of a liability.

  14. Porter Lansing 2022-02-04 18:05

    If it’s illegal for pharmaceutical companies to mail miscarriage pills to SD, have them sent here to a private postal box in Mpls. and then have the private postal box administrator forward your mail to you in SD.
    – Know who writes these inept laws your state passes?
    – The ones left behind when the “best and brightest” have moved away for seventy-five years.

  15. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-02-06 16:16

    If la Noem had any valid education or brains, spent less than six hours daily spackling her face, primping her hair, and dressing as a superannuated prom queen and had a conscience, she could be at least a neutral governor.
    South Dakota got what it deserved–a shallow, stupid, popularity contest winner who can’t write, read or comprehend. But, by golly, she and her family are God fearing Christians.

  16. mike from iowa 2022-02-06 17:31

    Imagine how dangerous Noem Nothing could be if she had brains. She could be the second coming of the stable genius. Stable odor wouldn’t phase her.

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