Recently elected to four more years, and often mentioned as a possible candidate for national office, Noem acts as if she just doesn’t need the South Dakota press anymore. Her performance in the current session, however, shows that if the legislation she proposes is really important to her, she needs to get her message out to South Dakotans by cultivating the state press corps rather than spending her time on Fox News.
If the governor had taken advantage of the increase in the size of the Capitol press corps to get the public on her side, maybe her signature bills wouldn’t have died this session. Her plan to cut the state sales tax on food? Dead. Her push to add more family leave for state employees? Dead. Her call for a board to vet the sales of agricultural land so it won’t be purchased by “countries that hate us?” Dead.
At a time when journalism is booming in South Dakota, the governor is choosing to stand by silently. Perhaps if she had taken advantage of this boom, rather than remaining mute, some of her legislative agenda might still be alive today [Dana Hess, “Journalism Changing and Thriving While Noem Avoids Press Conferences,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.03.05].
But hey, Kristi Noem has never seen her job as informing the people and passing legislation. Since 2010, Noem’s sole job has been to raise money and win elections, and her sole constituency has been herself.