Noem not ready to make call on 2014Congresswoman says she still has time to decide if she will run for Senate or House.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem isn’t throwing her hat into the ring in a bid for the Senate in 2014, but she’s not bowing out, either.
“I’m certainly not making any decisions right now,” Noem told The Daily Republic Thursday. “I just haven’t made any decisions.”
Former Gov. Mike Rounds has announced his intentions to seek the Republican nomination for the seat now held by U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson.
Rounds hinted at a run for months before making it official shortly after the November election.
Noem claimed a second seat in the House in that election, and has so far declined to reveal if she will run for a third term, or if she will consider challenging Rounds in the GOP primary.
She agreed Thursday it is unusual to have so many high-profile South Dakota politicians mentioned as possible candidates in a race.
In addition to Johnson, Rounds and herself, former Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who lost to Noem in 2010, is believed to be considering a run for the Senate or House seat she held for almost seven years. Johnson’s son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, is widely seen as a potential candidate by South Dakota Democrats.
Johnson, who is nearing the end of his third term in the Senate, has said he will announce this spring if he will run again.
The 66-year-old Democrat, who served 10 years in the House before moving to the Senate, is still impacted from a brain bleed he suffered on Dec. 13, 2006, but said he remains alert and fully capable of serving in the Senate. His speech and mobility, however, have been reduced.
Herseth Sandlin considered a rematch against Noem in 2012, but dropped out of the race in late 2011. Matt Varilek, a Johnson staffer, was the Democratic candidate, and was defeated 57 to 43 percent by Noem.
Noem said she will not make an announcement in the near future. She said she has time to make a decision on her future, and besides, she just won a race for Congress.
Noem said she has no idea if Johnson will run for a fourth term, but she may ask him when she sees him next week during a meeting to discuss the future of the Veterans Affairs facility in Hot Springs.
The Republican from rural Castlewood said she has to work on numerous issues, including a new farm bill, an automatic reduction in federal spending known as “sequestration” and other issues.
The House Agriculture Committee held its first meeting Wednesday. Getting a new farm bill hammered out and passed is her main focus right now.
“I think it’s critically important that it be our No. 1 priority,” Noem said. “We need a five-year bill.”
She returned to Washington late Monday night, and missed the inaugural festivities as President Obama was sworn in for a second term.
Noem, 41, said she worked at the concession stand during her son Booker’s basketball tournament last weekend. He had several cousins playing in the tourney, she said, and other relatives worked as referees, coaches and in other capacities.
Spending time at home means more to her than being at formal events or the inaugural parties, Noem said.
“We’re a very close family,” she said. “I got back into Washington about 11 p.m., so I saw them coming back from their parties.”