Noem, Smith trade blows in lone South Dakota gubernatorial debate
Libertarian candidate Tracey Quint also participated in Dakota News Now forum
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Rep. Jamie Smith tried to make one another seem out of touch with their constituents during Friday night’s three-way debate between candidates in next month’s gubernatorial election.
Both major-party candidates used the bulk of their time during the hour-long back-and-forth that took place inside the KOTA-TV studio in Rapid City to accuse the other of playing politics with the offices they’ve held in recent years. Noem likened Smith to President Joe Biden, and Smith accused the first-term governor of putting her national profile ahead of the interests of South Dakotans.
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“Jamie Smith’s values are too extreme for South Dakota,” the 50-year-old Republican said while side-stepping a question about her stance on carving out exceptions to South Dakota’s abortion ban in cases of rape and incest.
Noem stayed on that talking point throughout the night, pointing out Smith’s record of supporting left-leaning initiatives as a six-year lawmaker and opposing legislation that prohibited race-based education and biological males from participating in youth sports designated for girls.
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The Sioux Falls Democrat, though, contended repeatedly that he’s a moderate willing to put partisanship aside and work with a conservative Legislature.
“The governor doesn’t remember who she’s running against,” he said. “I’m Jamie Smith, from South Dakota. I’m a moderate, middle-of-the-road guy who works across the aisle to get things done with people, and I make friends to get it done.”