Rep. Smith announces bid for South Dakota governor

Rep. Jamie Smith
Rep. Jamie Smith(Dakota News Now)
Published: Feb. 1, 2022 at 10:34 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A South Dakota state lawmaker has announced plans to challenge Gov. Kristi Noem in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Rep. Jamie Smith (D, Sioux Falls) made a formal announcement in a press conference Tuesday morning.

Dakota News Now reporter Austin Goss first reported Smith’s intentions to run for governor on Sunday. Tuesday’s announcement made those plans official.

Smith currently works as a realtor for Hegg Realtors in Sioux Falls. Prior to that, Smith was an educator and coach in Sioux Falls. He and his wife, Kjerstin, have two sons.

In his press conference, Smith stressed decisions he said he would have made differently than Gov. Noem. He said he supports the legalization of recreational marijuana, something South Dakota voters approved in 2020 through Amendment A. Noem led the subsequent push against Amendment A, which was eventually struck down by a court.

Smith also took swipes the controversy surrounding Noem’s involvement in the state’s real estate appraisal program, as well as the governor’s frequent out-of-state visits and campaign stops.

“I think one of the major differences you’ll find between me and Gov. Noem is that I will focus on the state of South Dakota,” Smith said. “She has moved on to the rest of the country, and South Dakotans are what matter to me.”

Noem’s response

As a Democrat, Smith faces long odds in deeply red South Dakota.

Noem’s campaign responded to Smith’s announcement with a press release, saying Smith’s voting record and values “don’t align with the people of South Dakota.”

“He has an F rating with the NRA, supports abortion on demand, government mandates, and marched with BLM,” the release said. “He is an extreme liberal whose policies have been rejected by South Dakotans for decades.”

Smith addressed his political affiliation in Tuesday’s press conference, calling himself a “pro-business Democrat,” saying he’ll work with all South Dakotans on the issues facing the state.

Other candidates

Smith is not the first Democrat to declare intentions to run for governor. Barry Hulse of Vermillion filed election paperwork earlier this month. However, Smith, who is currently House Minority Leader in the state legislature, is much more well known in state political circles.

Noem will also face a primary challenger of her own. Rep. Steve Haugaard (R, Sioux Falls) previously announced plans to run as a Republican against Noem.

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