Stephen Groves agrees with my assessment that Governor Kristi Noem’s endorsements in South Dakota’s Republican primaries produced, at best, mixed results. In the undercard to his report on Noem’s wobbly primary legs, Groves notes that, to boost her clearly struggling primary prospects, Noem held a secret (certainly not publicized!) meeting with some of the wing-nuttier Republicans in Sioux Falls, the “Patriot Ripple Effect,” to tell them she puts personal connections over conservative principles:
Sensing trouble ahead, Noem tried to minimize damage and maintain her ties with conservatives. The effort included a private meeting in mid-May at a church in Sioux Falls with a group called Patriot Ripple Effect.
Noem seemed eager to convince the dozens of people who filled a conference room at the church that she was like-minded. She pointed to her decision during the COVID-19 pandemic to forgo statewide lockdowns and mask mandates despite plenty of criticism and objections. She also clapped back at Republican lawmakers who pushed sweeping vaccine exemptions, espousing a hands-off approach to government that extends to businesses as much as individuals.
“They were blowing me up saying I wasn’t conservative because I would not come in and tell Sanford (the state’s largest hospital system) and tell big businesses that they couldn’t require vaccines for their employees,” she said. “My answer for them was, ‘You’re telling me as the government to tell them as a private business what to do.’”
Her assertions drew some applause. But their questions mostly challenged Noem, picking at her record throughout the 45-minute meeting. They wanted to know why she would target reliably conservative lawmakers?
“My babysitter’s running for office. I kind of like her,” she responded.
The group continued to press the question, with one member pointing to Noem’s statement backing a challenger to Novstrup, the state senator. Noem’s answer suggested her support for Rachel Dix was based more on personal connection than political ideology: “She’s a friend of mine and has been for years.”
As the primary results crystallized, it became clear the internal party conflict is not going away [Stephen Groves, “Mixed Results as South Dakota’s Noem Intervenes in GOP Races,” AP, 2022.06.12].
Patriot Ripple Effect is a bunch of East River anti-vax election deniers. Their founder, Dave Roetman, has endorsed Ravnsborg crony and DCI director David Natvig‘s mostly hopeless bid for Attorney General. They call transgender inclusivity “insane” arm-twisting. Back in April, whoever runs the group’s Twitter tweeted Luke 12:2—”There is nothing covered up that won’t be exposed and nothing secret that won’t be made known.” Funny they didn’t use their Twitter or their Substack to expose and make known their conversation with the Governor in May.*
And funny that Kristi Noem is so sensitive to criticism that she would grace such a fringe radical group with a special private meeting—even after conspicuously absenting herself from the group’s April 28 candidate forum.
*Update and Correction 17:05 CDT: Patriot Ripple Effect did release a video of the meeting on May 18! Governor Noem brought Lt. Gov. Rhoden with her! Now if they could just afford microphones that work.