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Noem, Smith to participate in only debate this week

Noem-vs-Smith-Graphic
Joshua Haiar
/
SDPB

The South Dakota governor’s race is heating up.

Candidates for both major parties are working to define their campaigns with little over a month left before election day.

Gov. Kristi Noem is using campaign resources to compare her Democratic challenger Jamie Smith to President Joe Biden. In a new television ad, Noem accuses Smith of voting in favor of several conservative lightning rod issues.

“Extreme Jamie Smith wants complete government control over your family. Smith pushed for statewide mask mandates, including for your kids in school. And Smith tried to force vaccinations on South Dakotans to keep their jobs,” the Noem ad said.

Smith did vote against the governor’s COVID 19 vaccine exemption bill. However, the proposal was ultimately rejected by the Republican-controlled legislature and never made it to her desk.

Noem’s time on the campaign trail is limited. Earlier this month she had back surgeryand she saidrecovery from the procedure will take several months.

Meanwhile, Democrat Jamie Smith is leaning into Noem’s national political ambitions. Smith, who is the House minority leader, criticizes Noem for bringing national partisan issues to South Dakota. In a recent commercial, Smith said he’ll keep his attention on the Rushmore state.

“What I do promise is that I’ll be here, in South Dakota, working alongside you to solve real problems. I’m Jamie Smith. Let’s focus on South Dakota,” the Smith ad said.

The two square off in their only scheduled debate this Friday evening on Dakota News Now. Early voting is already underway in South Dakota and Election Day is November 8.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.