South Dakota: Noem To Face Rep. Herseth Sandlin

June 8, 2010

UPDATED: South Dakota State Rep. Kristi Noem is the winner of a three-candidate Republican primary in her state’s at-large congressional district and will face Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D) in November.

With about 93 percent of the vote counted, Noem had 42 percent to 35 percent for South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson and 23 percent for state Rep. Blake Curd.

Noem’s win means that South Dakota voters for the first time will choose between two women to represent them in the U.S. House.

Noem’s win was impressive in that she entered the race only in February, months after Curd and Nelson. Curd was the best-funded but most politically inexperienced candidate; Nelson began the race as the best-known candidate after two statewide victories, but raised little money.

Republicans didn’t seriously challenge Herseth Sandlin in 2006 and 2008 but think she’s vulnerable this year in part because of the turbulent political environment and also because she hasn’t raised as much campaign funds money as in previous cycles. The Congresswoman had $452,000 in her bank account as of mid-May, compared to $754,000 two years ago.

“Like many Democrats representing Republican-leaning districts, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is finding that 2010 is a wholly different experience to the campaigns she ran in 2006 and 2008,” the National Republican Congressional Committee said in a memo late Tuesday.

Democratic officials think that Herseth Sandlin, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of Democrats who promote fiscal restraint, has centrist views that match the district much better than what they say are Noem’s far-right views. They’re also prepared to attack Noem for attacking government spending policies even as her family’s ranch accepts agricultural subsidies.

CQ Politics for the moment rates the South Dakota at-large race as Likely Democratic.

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