SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota–Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) beat out former South Dakota Speaker of the House Steve Haugaard in the Republican gubernatorial primary on June 7, chalking up another win for former President Trump who gave his “complete and total endorsement for Noem in February.
With 48 percent of the votes reported at 10:39 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Noem received more than 76 percent of the vote, according to Decision Desk HQ.
Noem will face state Rep. Jamie Smith (D) in November’s general election.
Recent polling data was on target as it predicted that incumbents would “have no problem” getting reelected on June 7. Noem has been dominating the polls data since her first of four terms in Congress and has never lost an election. She was elected governor in 2018.
Noem did little campaigning and stood on her record of putting “South Dakota first” and the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. She garnered approximately $15 million in campaign donations with almost $9 million cash on hand. Haugaard reported raising more than $105,000 with $24,000 in cash on hand.
In a statement made in April, she said she and Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden are “grateful” for the support.
“We will continue to protect our South Dakota way of life, and the priorities that are most important to the people of our great state,” she said. “We have accomplished a lot together but there is still much more to do.”
Noem’s fundraising was anchored by a national profile that emerged because of the way she handled the COVID pandemic and saying “no to lockdowns.” This appealed to her conservative base who objected to lockdowns and mandates.
Noem’s Democrat opponent, Smith, reported raising more than $137,000 with approximately $110,000 cash on hand.
In February, former Trump threw his support behind Noem.
“Kristi Noem has done a great job as Governor of South Dakota,” Trump said in a Feb. 8 statement. “She is strong on Borders, the Second Amendment, preserving land and Energy Dominance, Medical Freedom, and kept South Dakota open during COVID. She fully supports our great Law Enforcement, Military, our wonderful Vets—and is a fighter for the incredible people of South Dakota. Kristi has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Along with Trump’s endorsement, Noem has engineered a national profile that made it difficult for other candidates to challenge her, University of South Dakota political science professor Michael Card told The Epoch Times.
South Dakota is a predominantly conservative state and one where “even the Democrats” are conservative, he said.
“Even most Democrats are conservative, largely due to lives in agriculture,” he said. “Conservative populists have liked Trump and other brash politicians.”
“They have slapped Democrats around in just about every campaign, even running unopposed for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010 and U.S. House seat in 2020,” he said. “South Dakota hasn’t elected a Democrat for governor since 1974—it’s a solidly Republican state.”
The South Dakota legislature has supermajorities in both chambers, with Republicans holding 94 of 105 seats.
It has long been rumored that Noem is a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024 or on the ticket with Trump of whom she has been an ardent supporter.