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Fractious Legislature Demonstrates Noem’s Failure to Focus on Governing

Bob Mercer, who has reported on the Legislature for 38 years (and worked downstairs from the Legislature for four years under Governor Bill Janklow) calls the 2022 Session the “longest, weirdest” he’s seen, due primarily to the intense split among Republicans:

There’s the three-way fight underway in the House of Representatives. One side is Governor Kristi Noem’s Republican backers. Another side has the Republicans aligned behind her primary-election challenger, Representative Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls, and House Appropriations chair Chris Karr of Sioux Falls. Then there’s the small group of eight Democrats, who suddenly as a bloc have the decisive votes on many issues [Bob Mercer, “S.D.’s Strangest Legislative Session in Decades,” KELO-TV, 2022.03.06].

This split comes largely from Kristi Noem’s failure to govern. Past governors have managed to keep the Republican caucus mostly in line. Noem, perhaps weakened from the start by her narrow 2018 victory over the more capable and likable Billie Sutton, Noem has lived up to Sutton’s warnings, working for herself, her campaign chest, and her national celebrity status far more than for the people who elected her. Her focus on national campaigning has caused her not to attend to Legislative affairs. It’s as if she thinks she’s entitled to Legislative agreement the same way she’s entitled to pageant victories and farm subsidies. She assumes the Legislature will just automatically do what she wants, without any hard work on her part. She throws sloppy, ill-thought-out bills at the Legislature before jetting off to her next out-of-state fundraiser, and she is shocked and vituperative when the Legislature does not merely obey her edicts.

Kristi Noem evidently still thinks her only job is to win elections, not carry out the basic, unglamorous duties of the job she’s elected to do. Her inattention to duty may have been easier to cover up during her eight years in Washington, when she was just one of 435 United States Representatives voting the way her caucus told her and fundraising half the time like everyone else in the House. But now in the unique position of Governor, Noem can’t hide her inability to do real work. The fracturing of her own Republican caucus in Pierre, a mostly loyal bunch with few big ideas or ambitions, a group that past Governor’s have found relatively easy to control, is further evidence that Kristi Noem isn’t cut out for real work.


  1. V 2022-03-07 07:20

    Cory, you outdid yourself. I can’t wait to use vituperative around the coffee ladies. Test to see if they really are listening to me.

  2. Donald Pay 2022-03-07 08:55

    Certainly, Noem is the worst SD Governor in my memory. Gubbrud was as slow as Noem, but he did attend to business. Janklow was a bigger bully than Noem, but no one can say he was lazy.

  3. O 2022-03-07 09:03

    Cory, I think you have identified the split in Pierre correctly and even the cause of that split. The irony of the situation is that as you have identified in previous analysis of the legislature, Rep Haugaard and his devotees seem no more interested in governance than Gov. Noem. It does not seem to be that those statesmen (and yes, there are statesmen in the GOP) are the cause of the split — nor are they the reason that political nonsense has clogged the process. There are a few bills that have been amended and perpetuated to try to allow the Governor a “win” on some of the more social warrior issues (CRT) that have eaten up quite a bit of legislative time that have pulled more of the GOP into the campaigning over governance fray.

    But who is surprised by this? These leaders are acting EXACTLY as expected. We get what we vote for. I don’t see the new Exec for the state GOP talking about how to clean up his house — only how to grab the last outliers of Democrat representation.

  4. John 2022-03-07 11:49

    The voters knew snowjob noem was incompetent: 8 years in the US House, 1 bill – yet to be fully implemented since its poorly written. Yet, the morons wanted the snowjob over common sense and competent management.
    I’m sick and tired of the blue states bailing out the willfully blind and stupid.

  5. leslie 2022-03-07 12:13

    My guess if tallied: Noem’s incompetence notwithstandingstanding, her bullying is every bit as obnoxious and corrupt as Janklow’s.

    Btw, anyone tell me where our blog friend from Winner is? I mentioned him to a Vet at the Hot Springs VA this morning. Thx

  6. Mark Anderson 2022-03-07 18:28

    Come on Cory, if your that pretty….why work?

  7. Arlo Blundt 2022-03-08 00:06

    Well..”inattention to duty” is a polite understatement. It’s hard to be attentive when you have no attention span. If Governor Noem applied some of the energy she devoted to creating a job for her daughter, we might be able to build some sewers and pump some drinking water in this state.

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