GOP House hopefuls meet in forumPIERRE — The three candidates seeking the Republican nomination to run for South Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House agreed on most issues during a televised forum Wednesday night, but they disagreed on who has the best chance of forcing changes in national policies.
By: Chet Brokaw, The Daily Republic
PIERRE — The three candidates seeking the Republican nomination to run for South Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House agreed on most issues during a televised forum Wednesday night, but they disagreed on who has the best chance of forcing changes in national policies.
South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson, state Rep. Blake Curd of Sioux Falls and state Rep. Kristi Noem of Castlewood answered questions for about an hour during a forum broadcast by KELOTV of Sioux Falls. Republican voters will decide in the June 8 primary which candidate represents the party against Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in November.
None of the Republicans singled out Herseth Sandlin for specific criticism, but they instead denounced President Barack Obama and Congress for excessive spending that has increased the national debt, passing the health care reform law and allowing government to interfere in private business.
Registered GOP voters outnumber registered Democrats in South Dakota, and Republicans are hoping to capture the seat from Herseth Sandlin, who is seeking a fourth term.
All three GOP candidates said they would work to repeal health care reform — a measure Herseth Sandlin voted against, saying it was too expensive and would not do enough to contain costs or lower insurance rates.
The GOP candidates also said they would cut federal spending and would support keeping U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan until terrorists are defeated and those countries can run themselves.
The Republican contenders avoided criticizing each other. Their sharpest differences came when each was asked why he or she would do the best job in office.
Nelson said he has demonstrated that he is a fiscal conservative during his two terms as secretary of state. He said his office is one of only two state agencies that has reduced staff since 2003, and he said he understands business because he still runs cattle on his family farm.
“Over the last seven years as your secretary of state, you’ve had an opportunity to see how I operate as a state leader. You understand I operate with integrity,” Nelson said.
Noem said she has 20 years experience running the family farm, has managed several small businesses and is raising her family in South Dakota. She noted her colleagues selected her as assistant majority leader in the South Dakota House in just her second term in the Legislature.
“I will tell you I am South Dakota. I think South Dakota is best represented when it’s represented by somebody who is just like them,” Noem said.
Curd said he has experience running small businesses, working as a surgeon and spending 13 years in the U.S. Air Force. He said he wants to go to Congress and help change the nation’s policies, then return to South Dakota to resume his medical practice.
“I’m not a career politician, and I will not allow my time in government to become a career,” Curd said.