Noem, Smith agree to single gubernatorial debate

In a public back-and-forth announcing the debate, scheduled for Sept. 30 in Rapid City, the gubernatorial candidates previewed some lines of attack to watch when they meet on stage.

Election 2022 in United States
Midterm Election 2022 in United States.
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Incumbent Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and Democratic challenger Jamie Smith have agreed to a single debate, scheduled for Sept. 30 at the KOTA studio in Rapid City, one week after early voting in the state begins.

Writing in a letter addressed to Smith on July 12, Noem said she hoped to discuss “a wide variety of issues, especially those on which we do not see eye-to-eye,” extending a “challenge” to her Democratic opponent to accept the invitation.

In accepting the invitation, Smith, a legislator from Sioux Falls, criticized Noem for a “break from precedent” in participating in just one debate, but accepted the invitation nonetheless.

The 2018 gubernatorial election, where Noem edged past her Democratic opponent Billie Sutton, featured two debates. Prior to that, in former Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s 2014 re-election campaign, he and Democratic challenger Susan Wismer participated in four debates.

Following the acceptance, Smith previewed one line of attack he will likely continue on debate night, painting Noem as focused on building her national image rather than meeting the needs of South Dakotans. In a tweet on the evening of July 12, Smith wrote “Tonight, I get to meet with constituents. It’s a beautiful night in South Dakota. Meanwhile, Kristi Noem is [in] California discussing national foreign policy. Apparently taking the time to do more than one debate just isn’t as important as her travel schedule.”


Smith was referencing a recent meeting between Noem and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; in announcing the conversation on Facebook , Noem referenced her time on the House Armed Services Committee.

The debate will be co-hosted by Dakota News Now and KOTA/KEVN. Election Day is Nov. 8.

On Nov. 8, South Dakotans rejected a ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana in the state among anyone 21 years and over. Now, the more than 100 businesses clamoring for a piece of this industry will have to attempt to sustain themselves on a few thousand medical patients.

Jason Harward is a Report for America corps reporter who writes about state politics in South Dakota. Contact him at 605-301-0496 or

Jason Harward covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at
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