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Noem opts for House, not Senate in 2014

Rep. Kristi Noem

Heading off what could have been a grueling primary, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., announced Tuesday afternoon that she would seek re-election to the U.S. House rather than take on former Gov. Mike Rounds in a 2014 primary.

"I would like to thank everyone who has encouraged me and pledged support for a potential campaign for the U.S. Senate," Noem said in a post to her "Krist for Congress" Facebook page. "However, after spending the weekend discussing our future with Bryon and our children, we decided that right now we are in the best position to serve South Dakota as a member of the U.S. House

Noem said much work remains to be done.

"At the top of that list is getting a full five-year Farm Bill passed to give our agriculture industry the certainty needed to plan for the future," she said.

The Rounds campaign issued a statement within minutes of Noem's Facebook post.

"Kristi called Mike this morning and they had a good conversation," said Rob Skjonsberg, Rounds' campaign manager. "He respects her decision and we've pledged to do everything in our power to assist in her re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives. It's time to come together and support a united team for South Dakota."

Noem's move marks the latest twist in a Shakespearean 2014 election saga as South Dakota readies to replace retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D. Just weeks ago, political observers were watching every move of Democrats Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Brendan Johnson, wondering if there might be a rough-and-tumble primary battle in that party.

Then two-time House candidate Rick Weiland declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate. Days later, Herseth Sandlin announced she was out.

Brendan Johnson has yet to say himself what his plans are, although surrogates ranging from Weiland to his father, the sitting senator, all have indicated he is not preparing to organize a campaign.

Rounds and Weiland remain the only two declared candidates for the Senate seat.