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Noem Breaks Precedent, Agrees to Debate Smith Only Once

While Kristi Noem was away from her desk on another trip to California, her campaign team cloaked the fact that she’s going to avoid most debates in a “challenge” to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jamie Smith to face her in one debate on September 30 on KSFY, KOTA, and KEVN.

Kristi Noem, campaign press release framed as letter to Jamie Smith, 2022.07.13.
Kristi Noem, campaign press release framed as letter to Jamie Smith, 2022.07.13.

(In speaking of “the two of us,” Team Noem excludes Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Tracey Quint from consideration.)

Funny: if Noem were really following the precedent set by previous incumbent Governors, and if she really wanted to as many South Dakotans as possible to have an opportunity to watch their gubernatorial candidates debate, she’d agree to debate Smith at DakotaFest in Mitchell in August, before any ballots can be cast, as Governor Dennis Daugaard and his challenger Susan Wismer did in 2014. She’d come to a second debate at the State Fair in Huron, again before early voting starts, as Daugaard and Wismer did in 2014. She’d go on SDPB with Smith in October, the Daugaard, Wismer, and independent Mike Myers did in 2014. And she’d go on KELO-TV for one more debate, as incumbent Daugaard, Democrat Wismer, and independent Myers did in 2014.

The last incumbent Governor made time for four debates, and he spent more time at his desk working and less time tweeting and national-camera hogging than the current Governor does.

In 2006, incumbent Governor Marion Michael Rounds debated his Democratic opponent Jack Billion at DakotaFest, the State Fair, and on SDPB. In July 2006, Rounds at least claimed to have agreed to seven or eight “debates or forums” as an excuse for ditching the Rapid City Journal‘s invitation to a series of weekly debates.

Jamie Smith, who spent the day speaking with voters in South Dakota in person, responded that he’ll be happy to debate Noem on TV on September 30 but that he’s disappointed that she would break with precedent (not to mention lie about it):

Today I accepted Dakota News Now’s invitation to participate in a debate on September 30th, 2022 in Rapid City. I appreciate the dedication of Dakota News Now in organizing this debate as well as their continued commitment to bringing transparency to state politics in Pierre.

In breaking a decades-long precedent, Governor Noem has agreed to participate in only one debate. South Dakotans deserve better.

Let’s be clear, in Governor Noem’s first term:

  • The childcare crisis has exploded. It now costs South Dakota families an estimated $10,000 per year, per child for quality childcare;
  • Our schools are in crisis. The Department of Education reports a statewide shortage of more than 500 teachers;
  • Our prisons are overflowing. Violent crime is up almost 30% in the last year and corrections officers continue to work in unsafe conditions;
  • She overturned the will of the voters on recreational marijuana, and used taxpayer dollars to fund her lawsuit; and
  • Most South Dakota patients still don’t have access to the medical cannabis they voted for two years ago.

With this many issues facing South Dakotans, one debate won’t cut it.

While I am pleasantly surprised Governor Noem could find time in her busy out-of-state travel schedule to be in South Dakota long enough to have a debate, I am disappointed that South Dakotans will not have any further opportunities to hear from the two of us on the wide range of challenges we face. I implore Governor Noem to reconsider her position and join me in more debates.

Nevertheless, I am grateful that we will be able to debate and discuss issues that are relevant and important to the people of this state. I’m ready to discuss my vision for the future of South Dakota and look forward to what I hope will be an honest, fact-based, and spirited debate [Jamie Smith, campaign press release, 2022.07.13].

In the midst of multiple crises, Noem has time to campaign in D.C., New York CityCalifornia, TexasTexas, TexasVirginia, Utah, FloridaLong Island, Jackson Hole… but she only has time to debate Jamie Smith in South Dakota once. Given the list of South Dakota policy problems Smith wants to talk about, it’s no wonder Noem is breaking precedent and offering only one debate between gassing up her jet to fundraisers across the country.

Related Campaign News: Noem’s propaganda piece lists Chris Hupke as her campaign manager. She hired Joe Desilets for that job back in November, and while Desilets still lists “Campaign Manager at Kristi Noem for Governor” as his current gig, he disappeared in April. The travel must have been too much for him.


  1. Nick Nemec 2022-07-14 08:21

    She is afraid of hard questions and actual debate that might throw her off her talking points.

  2. Ryan 2022-07-14 09:01

    Oh man I can’t wait for this. One problem with famous morons is they surround themselves with sycophants so they aren’t publicly exposed as being super dumb very often. Debates can change that. Our idiot governor is going to look so friggin stupid when asked a real question and not given the opportunity to change the subject. Wonderful. I am also happy to see Mr. Smith is not letting her BS go uncontested. He gives me a little hope that we may actually be rid of moron noem soon. Incredible.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-14 10:39

    Smith has done a good job of getting in front of Noem’s effort to twist the narrative. KSFY invited Smith, Noem, and Quint to this debate. (Quint has not yet responded. Libertarians—answer your emails faster!) Noem tried to pretend she was challenging Smith to debate, but Smith quickly pointed out the fact that she’s ducking the challenge that her predecessors met in debating their Democratic challengers multiple times, at events before voting started and at events closer to Election Day.

    And every headline on the story today is chicken, not challenge. Well done, Team Smith.

  4. Kurt Evans 2022-07-14 18:28

    Cory writes:

    [Tracey] Quint [the Libertarian nominee for governor] has not yet responded. Libertarians—answer your emails faster!

    Chairman Baldwin told me this morning that, for some unknown reason, the email to the party has never reached us. He said Tracey eventually contacted the hosts on her own.

    [Updated] Dakota News Now to host gubernatorial debate between[*] Noem, Smith, and Quint:


  5. P. Aitch 2022-07-15 19:34

    Will a valid group of fact checkers present their findings the next day on a broad array of media outlets?

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