Noem campaign cuts new ad on transgender sports

The thirty-second ad buy is the latest push by Noem to capitalize on the issue.
Governor Kristi Noem's campaign has released a new ad touting her record on transgender sports.
Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 9:22 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - Governor Kristi Noem’s campaign has released a new ad touting her role in passing a transgender sports ban last legislative session.

The ad features Riley Gaines, a former college swimmer for the University of Kentucky and current conservative speaker, who competed against controversial transgender swimmer Lia Thomas.

“I have worked hard to accomplish my dream, becoming a twelve time All-American swimmer,” Gaines says in the ad. “But for girls across America that dream is being stolen, by men competing in women’s sports.” The ad then goes on to criticize Noem’s Democratic opponent Jamie Smith for the governorship for his vote opposing the ban last session.

Gaines goes on to praise the Noem-backed bill from the 2022 state legislative session as the strongest in the country.

“Kristi Noem stood up for us, passing the toughest law in the country to defend female sports.”

Since vetoing a similar bill in 2021, and throughout her gubernatorial campaign, Noem has pushed hard on the issue. She produced a similar ad that aired nationally during the last legislative session.

Former University of South Dakota Political Science Professor Michael Card argues that the issue is an easy place for Noem to distinguish herself from Smith.

“It defies many people’s logic, is a transgender girl a girl,” Card said. “It hits on a religious dimension, and a “this is the way we were raised perspective.””

“As Governor Noem has said many times, she competed in girls’ sports growing up,” Noem’s campaign spokesperson Ian Fury explained, when asked why the campaign has hit the issue so hard. “Her daughters had the opportunity to do so, as well... It’s about basic fairness.”

Smith argues that he and Noem didn’t have a drastically different position on the issue originally.

“This isn’t a problem in the state of South Dakota,” Smith said in response to the ad. “We have an activities association that has handled this for ten years and did a great job. Last year when this came through the legislature, I voted against it and Kristi Noem vetoed it.”

A new poll from South Dakota State University shows Noem and Smith running a tighter race than expected, meaning that a big ad buy in the last month could be the difference maker.

“Undecided voters are likely to be more Republican leaning than they are Independents or Democrats, just statistically,” Card said. “I think something like this may be enough to put her over the edge.”