Republican gubernatorial candidate Steven Haugaard would like to have a few words with his primary opponent, Governor Kristi Noem:
In 2018, then-Congresswoman Noem and then-state Attorney General Marty Jackley shared a public stage together at least three times leading up to the Republican governor primary. After she won the nomination, Noem committed to two public debates against Democrat Billie Sutton in the general election campaign.
This spring is a different story. Governor Noem hasn’t responded to requests from at least three news organizations that she debate or even be on the same TV program with Haugaard. Her strategy instead seems to be to ignore him and run on her record as governor.
“I can understand why the governor would not want to debate me because she cannot defend her record,” Haugaard said Wednesday. “She campaigned on ‘Transparency’ but she has been anything but transparent. An honest debate of all the issues will be the best remedy for a lack of voter awareness.”
South Dakota Public Broadcasting invited Noem to take part in its upcoming meet-the-candidates series. Her campaign initially said yes, but hasn’t responded to set a time for an interview.
South Dakota Newspaper Association invited Noem to debate Haugaard at its recent statewide convention in Mitchell. Haugaard said yes but there wasn’t an answer from the Noem campaign. The debate wasn’t held.
KELOLAND News invited Noem and Haugaard to participate in individually taped segments for Inside KELOLAND last weekend. Noem’s campaign declined the opportunity. Haugaard’s piece aired [Bob Mercer, “Noem’s Refusal to Engage Is Frustrating Haugaard,” KELO-TV, updated 2022.05.26].
Haugaard has mailed out this notice of a candidate forum hosted by the Miller Press at the Miller High School Armory (there we go again, normalizing armament in school) on June 1, an event to which he and Noem have been invited:
Noem has time to fly to Houston today to speak the NRA, but according to her campaign talker Chris Hupke, the Governor probably doesn’t have time to drive 72 miles to Miller to spend an evening (evening, after regular Pierre work hours) with South Dakotans about her record and the primary election:
Haugaard suggested Wednesday that he and Noem would be at a June 1 candidates event hosted by the Miller Press. Hupke, however, said Noem’s campaign had only recently learned about it and likely would send a representative rather than the governor [Mercer, 2022.05.26].
Haugaard may be frustrated, but he can’t be surprised. When Noem had tight races against powerful candidates like Jackley and Sutton, she had to seek the mic. Against a candidate who has raised less money in his entire campaign than Noem drew from four out-of-state speeches, she need not deign to emerge from her fenced mansion, her private Fox video studio, or her borrowed jets to face South Dakota candidates or voters.