Democratic South Dakota State Rep. Jamie Smith said South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is busy “cozying up to big out-of-state donors,” arguing he can win this year’s gubernatorial election because voters are “dissatisfied” with the Republican’s politics.
“Anytime you enter a race there is always a chance,” Smith told Fox News during a press conference Thursday, as he begins facing off against a popular GOP governor in a Red state.
Smith, who leads the state’s House Democratic Caucus, announced his candidacy for governor Tuesday. He argues that Noem, who has developed a national profile as governor, is too concerned about her future political ambitions and not enough about issues that matter to the people of South Dakota.
“Gov. Noem has been too busy cozying up to big out-of-state donors to focus on South Dakota,” Smith said during a news conference where he announced his campaign.
Noem has brushed off the notion that she plans to run for national office, saying during a news conference Thursday that she is “not running for president” and “not running for Senate.”
Noem also directed some criticism directly at Smith for his support of vaccine and mask mandates, saying such issues should be an individual’s “personal responsibility.”
“Jamie has long supported mandating things down to people that should be their personal responsibility to make choices on,” Noem said during Thursday’s press conference. “He’s got a very different view of government than I do. He’s marched with BLM, he supports more taxes, more spending. And you know, I would say we are very, very far apart when it comes to policies and the approach and the role that the government should have in people’s lives.”
Noem’s comments largely echoed those of her campaign manager Joe Desilets, who argued Smith’s “voting record and values don’t align with the people of South Dakota” after the Democrat announced his campaign.
But Smith says he has received bipartisan support from people that are yearning for “civil” politics.
“I have heard an outpouring from people, Democrats, Republicans and Independents who have said to me, ‘We are so glad you are in the race,’” Smith told Fox News. “We need to be civil and focus on South Dakota’s problems, and we need a Governor that focuses on South Dakotans.”
Noem’s campaign declined a Fox News request to respond to Smith’s comments, but South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Dan Lederman told Fox News that the governor enjoys broad support in South Dakota.
“Governor Noem is one of the most popular governors in the nation with more than 61% of South Dakotans approving of the job she has done as Governor,” Lederman said. “What the voters of South Dakota don’t want are the woke liberal politics that Jamie Smith and the Democrats are pushing. From marching with Black Lives Matter, to abortion on demand, and supporting the types of COVID mandates that have crippled the economies of other states, Jamie is severely out of touch with South Dakotans.”