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Democratic leader Rep. Jamie Smith to challenge Gov. Kristi Noem in South Dakota

Smith, D-Sioux Falls, is a former teacher and wrestling coach, who serves as the House Minority Leader.

Rep. Jamie Smith.jpg
Rep. Jamie Smith, D-Sioux Falls
Contributed / Johnny Sundby

PIERRE, S.D. — A leading South Dakota Democrat is expected to challenge Republican incumbent Kristi Noem in the South Dakota governor's race.

Rep. Jamie Smith , a three-term Democratic lawmaker from Sioux Falls and the House Minority Leader, will announce his candidacy for governor on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the statehouse, say multiple state Democratic Party officials.

Smith declined to give comment last week to Forum News Service saying that any announcement would be made soon.

The arrival of Smith into the race would end months of uncertainty for Democrats about who would be challenging first-term governor Noem, a popular figure in the GOP but one whose tenure as governor has been marked by controversies.

Over the last two years, Smith's role in the Statehouse has been marshaling the small, eight-lawmaker Democratic caucus in the House. The caucus has occasionally been able to make inroads in deterring bills or carrying legislation to the finish line, such as the "Sparrow" redistricting map this past November, which passed with more GOP opposition than support in the House of Representatives.

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A former teacher and wrestling coach who works now in realty, Smith has represented downtown Sioux Falls since 2016.

In 2018, then-Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, lost in his gubernatorial bid to Noem by just under 11,000 votes.

Christopher Vondracek covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at cvondracek@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter at @ChrisVondracek.
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