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2010 Race of the Day: Taking Back South Dakota

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

South Dakota may be home to Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug and the Badlands, but this fall it will also be witness to a competitive House race between a rising star of the GOP and a consummate DC insider with deep connections to DC’s special interest community.

South Dakota is one of seven states in the Union to have only one, At-Large Congressional District. After the incumbent resigned in 2004, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin narrowly won the special election with 51% of the vote. Viewed as one of the most competitive races in the country, Herseth Sandlin marginally defeated her opponent in the general election with 53% of the vote. As the Democratic wave swept the country, Herseth Sandlin’s margin of victory grew, but as you will see, only temporarily.

By all accounts, South Dakota’s House seat should belong in the Republican column seeing that the state has an R+9 rating from the Cook Political Report. The state has voted for every Republican presidential candidate since 1968, despite several attempts by Democrats to turn this state blue. A telltale sign of just how conservative-leaning this state truly is the fact that U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) will go unchallenged this fall  - the first time in the state’s modern history in which a major party has failed to field a Senate candidate. The state has a Cook PVI rating of R+9, and was won by both John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004.

Although to the good people of the Mount Rushmore State she boasts herself as a fiscally-responsible Democrat, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin’s record in Washington is anything but. She proudly supported the $787 billion failed stimulus package, voted for the most fiscally irresponsible budget in history, and voted to sell more debt to countries like China by raising the national debt ceiling by a staggering $2.2 trillion – supporting Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda 92.1% of the time. Finally, echoing one of the precipitating reasons for the downfall of Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) in 2004, Herseth Sandlin has been overwhelmed by questions on whether it is appropriate to have a husband who lobbies her fellow Representatives - which naturally raises concerns given the reckless nature of this Democrat Congress. With a record like this, it’s not surprising that Herseth Sandlin has trailed Kristi Noem in the polls for two straight months. In fact, just this morning, Real Clear Politics changed their rating on this to “Lean Republican”. 

Unlike Herseth Sandlin, who was a DC resident much of her adult life before moving home just to run for Congress, Noem lives and breathes South Dakota. When tragedy struck, Noem left college to help run the family farm because she knew it was the right thing to do.  Conservative and genuine with deep roots in South Dakota’s agricultural community, Noem is everything Herseth Sandlin pretends to be but is not. Actively running her family business for almost twenty years, Noem raises Angus cattle on her ranch near Castlewood. The recipient of awards such as Young Leader for the state of South Dakota, Noem has served on various committees and is heavily involved in her local community. She stands for traditional Republican ideals and conservative values, such as limited government, job creation, and strong moral standards.

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is willing to do whatever it takes to keep this seat, which will be tough since even Democrats are unhappy with her performance.  During the healthcare debate, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had to come to her rescue to help her avoid a primary challenge.  In return, Herseth Sandlin vowed to never vote to weaken Obamacare – a promise she kept when she recently voted to maintain the bill’s individual mandate.

South Dakotans deserve better, and this fall they have the chance to elect a Republican who will bring a steady, responsible voice back to Washington and effectively represent their needs and interests. I hope you will visit Kristi’s website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook to stay informed on the latest news and updates.

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