It is apparently Kristi Noem’s destiny to run against Stephanie again this year.
But not Herseth Sandlin, an incumbent congresswoman with $2 million to spend, a statewide reputation and the backing of hundreds of thousands of voters. She is on the sidelines this year.
Try Stephanie Strong, a 46-year-old Rapid City woman who has never sought office before, declined to reveal how much money she has for the campaign when I spoke with her Thursday, and has almost no name recognition.
Strong is collecting names on petitions, and if she turns in 1,955 valid signatures, she will be on the Republican ballot June 5. She said Noem has become part of the problem and not the solution.
Strong told me the problem is when politicians go to Washington and “disappear” instead of truly representing the voters who sent them there.
It sounds a lot like what Noem alleged in 2010 that SHS had done.
I wonder when we will hear Noem blasted for having voted with Nancy Pelosi, a charge Noem hung on Herseth Sandlin all during the 2010 race. I am sure there were many times Noem cast a ballot on the same side of a non-controversial issue as Pelosi, the liberal San Francisco Democrat.
I tried to ask South Dakota GOP chairman Tony Post about this, and to see if the party would remain neutral or endorse its incumbent. Strangely enough, Tony P. was unavailable for five hours Thursday. We will see what he has to say at some point or he may offer a tweet or two.
In some ways, this race may benefit Noem. She can position herself as a conservative, but not a representative of the far right like Strong, who plans to run to the right of Noem, a fairly difficult challenge.
Could it hurt her? Sure. Noem could stumble in a debate, Strong could raise an issue that the Democratic nominee could use in the fall, or Strong could ride the national wave against incumbents and pull a major upset.
Unlikely? Sure, but that’s what the conventional wisdom was in 2010 when a popular incumbent who had won in landslide fashion in 2006 and 2006 took on a little-known state legislator from Castlewood.