Rep. Kristi Noem advanced a step closer to becoming the first woman to serve as South Dakota’s governor after her win over state Attorney General Marty Jackley in Tuesday’s Republican gubernatorial primary.
The primary had been a mostly mundane affair until a poll released by Mason-Dixon last week showed the race was a toss-up. But all the late drama was ultimately for naught as Noem cruised to victory.
Few substantive policy differences emerged between the two candidates during the campaign, and both pledged fealty to President Donald Trump’s agenda.
Noem and her team went on offense by repeatedly calling Jackley a “government lawyer” tied to the state’s capital, Pierre. Jackley followed suit by casting the congresswoman as an establishment figure in Washington, which many GOP voters view in a negative light.
Jackley, 47, previously served as U.S. attorney for the district of South Dakota. He has extensive experience in prosecuting criminal and civil cases, including murder, assault, financial crimes and other felony cases.
Noem, 46, previously served in the South Dakota House. She was first elected to her House seat, which encompasses the entire state, in 2010 and is a member of the chamber’s conservative Republican Study Committee. She also serves on the powerful Ways and Means committee, where she was involved in helping write last year’s bill that enacted sweeping tax cuts.
Noem will square off in the Nov. 6 election against state Senate Democratic leader Billie Sutton, who begins the race as a pronounced underdog. The last Democrat to win the governor’s race was then-incumbent Dick Kneip in 1974. And Trump carried the deeply conservative state by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016.