Noem, Smith Agree To September Gubernatorial Debate

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and state Rep. Jamie Smith, the Democratic lawmaker challenging her in the November election for governor, agreed Wednesday to a September debate in Rapid City.

The Republican governor's campaign said she would participate in just one debate, accepting an invitation for one co-hosted by Dakota News Now and KOTA/KEVN on Sept. 30.

Smith immediately told The Associated Press he would participate and criticized Noem for not participating in more face-to-face exchanges.

“That’s unfortunate that she only wants to get out and talk about the issues that affect South Dakota one time,” he said.

Noem is running for reelection after a first term that vaulted her into national prominence among Republicans for her mostly hands-off approach to COVID-19 restrictions. She has become a polarizing figure in the heavily-Republican state and Smith is trying to challenge her for seeming to have political ambitions beyond South Dakota.

Noem also released a letter to Smith, saying, "Voters deserve the opportunity to hear from the two of us on a wide variety of issues, especially those on which we do not see eye-to-eye. I look forward to a spirited, fact-driven conversation, and I trust that you hope for the same.”