South Dakota GOP Governor Kristi Noem—Her Two-Year Old Grandchild Has A Shotgun and a Rifle! April 23, 2023
As anyone who follows national politics knows, reasonable gun control reform, despite one horrible massacre after another, literally gets shredded by a hail of bullets fired by the GOP and its steadfast ally the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA may be having financial troubles, but the GOP will not withdraw its rockbound allegiance to this extremist outfit. GOPers, including top members of this Trump cult, enthusiastically headed to the NRA’s most recent lobbying leadership forum that took place in Indiana. Among the speakers, the NRA heard from Republican “rising star,” South Dakota’s present Governor Republican Kristi Noem. Noem, considered by many pundits to have 2024 presidential ambitions, (See Cohen & Cook Political Almanac 2022), gave this audience the “red meat” it wanted to hear. And just what did she say? In a speech that went viral on social media, Gov. Noem, told the NRA that her nearly two-year old toddler grandchild Addie already has several guns, including “a shotgun and a rifle.” The general public was rightly horrified by what they saw as Noem’s promoting gun ownership among children. Tennessee Democrat Chris Jackson wrote on Twitter, “Absolutely sickening. How the hell is this real life in America?” Jackson’s state recently witnessed three children and three adults killed by a former student at a private Christian school in Nashville, TN (theguardian.com, Oladipo, G., 4/15/23). During her “my toddler possesses guns” speech, Noem signed an executive order that seeks to “further protect the second amendment rights of South Dakotans.” Noem was joined on the stage by the NRA’s CEO, ultra-gun loving fanatic Wayne LaPierre. Noem declared that by signing this executive order, “South Dakota is setting the standard for the most second amendment friendly state in the nation.” This executive order would prohibit state agencies from contracting with any businesses that discriminate against a “firearm-related entity (theguardian.com, 4/15/23).” IMHO, Gov. Noem, along with Demagogue Donald and bigoted/provocative Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) embody the face of the irrational GOP heading into presidential election year 2024. Here’s Gov. Noem.
Second-term Governor Kristi Noem (51) won her first term as South Dakota’s Governor in 2018. As with many GOPers, she is a proud member of the Trump gang. In 2020, Gov. Noem achieved national attention by following Demagogue Donald’s downplaying of the then raging COVID-19 virus, even though ignoring COVID turned her state into a viral hotspot (See Cohen & Cook 2022). Hamlin County, SD Norwegian-American native Noem was raised on her family’s farm. She attended Northern State University from 1990-1994. She left college before graduating to run the family farm after her father died in a fall into a grain bin while trying to unclog a feeder line (Cohen & Cook 2022). With her husband, Noem raised Angus cattle and quarter horses. Noem is an avid hunter of elk, pheasant, and other game. She owned a hunting lodge and worked as a restaurant manager. In 2011, when she was serving in the U.S. House, she obtained her BA degree from South Dakota State University (Cohen & Cook 2022).
After developing an interest in conservative issues, Noem first ran for the SD House and narrowly won election in 2006. She served in the SD House for four terms (2007-2011) and became assistant majority leader (Cohen & Cook 2022). In that state body, Noem was the major sponsor of 11 bills that became law. These included several property tax bills and two bills that increased gun rights in SD (HB 1182, SB 70, SB 89). In 2009, Noem served as vice-chair of the Agriculture Land Assessment Advisory task force. The chair of that task force, Sen. Larry Rhoden, later became her Lt. Governor (sdleislature.gov., 11/02/29). In anti-Obama year 2010, Noem challenged Dem. Congressmember Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Out-of-state GOPers gave much money to Noem’s race, helping her to outraise her prominent Democratic rival. Noem defeated Herseth Sandlin 48%-46% (Cohen & Cook 2022 Almanac). Noem easily coasted to re-election in her next three House contests (See SD-At-Large Congressional District Elections). In D.C., Noem was named one of two first-year class representatives to the GOP leadership and became well-liked by right-wing activists. In 2015, she joined the powerhouse Ways and Means tax committee and played a key role in pushing Demagogue Donald’s regressive top 1% tax cut into law. She helped reduce the impact of the estate tax on wealthy families (Cohen & Cook 2022 Almanac).
In 2018, Noem announced she would run for Gov. of SD, hoping to succeed the two-term GOP incumbent. After winning the GOP primary, Noem faced a strong Democratic opponent who took conservative stands. With polls showing a close race, Trump and VP Pence came to her aid and she received financial backing from the GOP Governors Association. In the end, in a state where Trump handily won in 2016 and which is now strongly “Red,” Noem defeated her “Team Blue” opponent by three points, 51%-48% (See Cohen & Cook 2022).
Noem pursued a strongly conservative agenda. She signed bills that legalized concealed handguns without a permit. She required schools to prominently display the motto “In God We Trust.” Native Americans, a key group in Mount Rushmore State SD, feuded with Gov. Noem over her support for laws that cracked down on demonstrations such as the ones that tribal members had carried out against the Keystone XL pipeline. Noem supports that pipeline (See Cohen & Cook 2022). In 2021, after her solid “Red” State enacted a ballot measure to legalize medical marijuana that passed with 70% of the vote, Noem stated she would delay its enforcement. Noem campaigned on an anti-transgender platform, but a draconian anti-transgender bill was scuttled by a state Senate committee. However, in 3/2021, Noem issued a pair of executive orders that barred transgender girls from taking part in girls’ sports, either at the K-12 level or in college (Cohen & Cook 2022 Almanac).
Noem is one hard-line abortion opponent. She has signed several bills restricting abortion that she said would “crack down on abortion providers in South Dakota.” Following the overturning of “Roe v. Wade,” SD became one of the first states to enact trigger laws banning abortions (Kaczke, 3/2019, argusleader.com, Iyer, 7/04/22, cnn.com). In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Noem defended SD’s abortion ban which only allows exceptions in cases in which the mother’s life is in danger. When she was asked about the case of the 10-year old child abuse victim who traveled from Ohio to Indiana to receive an abortion, Gov. Noem stated she would not support changing the law to allow exceptions for rape victims. She argued that she does not “believe a tragic situation should be perpetuated by another tragedy (Iyer, 7/04/22, cnn.com).”
As was previously noted, even before Gov. Noem achieved notoriety for bragging about her toddler granddaughter’s possession of guns, she had already landed in the “wacko” national spotlight for downplaying the dangerous threat of COVID-19 just like Demagogue Donald. Noem declined to issue stay-at-home orders or business closures. She told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, “I believe in our freedoms and liberties (Cohen & Cook 2022).” Translation: Freedom and liberty to become critically ill and die by ignoring sound available medical advice. Gov. Noem initially balked at urging the closure of a Smithfield pork plant near Sioux Falls that had become a COVID hotspot, but finally changed her mind. Noem announced a clinical trial of Trump’s favorite anti-COVID “remedy,” hydroxychloroquine, which most doctors viewed skeptically. Native Americans again challenged Noem after she criticized tribal checkpoints that were aimed at keeping the deadly virus away from reservations. After a series of large public events in the summer and fall, including the South Dakota State Fair and Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Noem’s SD became the hottest of the country’s COVID-19 hotspots (Cohen & Cook 2022). Noem’s response? At her 2020 GOP National Convention address, she angrily bristled at public-health advice from what she called an “elite class of so-called experts.” “Gov. Noem, MD?” (LOL or really COL, Cry Online). Noem further took criticism for spending $5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds on a state tourism ad that she narrated. This ad premiered on disgraced Fox News along with her convention speech (Cohen & Cook 2022 Almanac).
While most of the public was horrified by Gov. Noem’s non-COVID responses, she won a following among the only group she really cared about—national Trump GOPers. She received advice from Trump insider Corey Lewandowski and put a TV studio in her governor’s office. These actions increased her airtime on GOP propaganda station Fox. On July 4, 2020, Noem hosted Trump at Mount Rushmore, where Demagogue Donald delivered a speech to a largely non-socially distanced audience. Noem successfully lobbied federal officials to approve fireworks for the event, breaking a decade-long moratorium prompted by wildfire concerns. Noem presented Donald with a four-foot-tall $1,000-plus model of Mount Rushmore with his face on it. Her action encouraged many fellow members of the MAGA crowd to push for adding Trump’s face to Mount Rushmore (See Cohen & Cook 2022). After this event, Noem and Lewandowski flew to D.C. on Air Force One.
Noem may be looking beyond SD. She has made trips to key primary/caucus states, including Iowa and Ohio. In the 2021 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll, Gov. Noem finished second to FL’s extremist Ron DeSantis in a contest in which Trump didn’t compete. She even outpolled TX GOP fanatic Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. in that contest (Cohen & Cook 2022). There is talk that Noem might run for president in 2024 if Trump didn’t. Trump, of course, has declared he is running again for the White House in 2024, but Noem is known to change her mind on many issues so don’t count her out in a 2024 challenge to Donald (See Cohen & Cook). Noem falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election in which Biden solidly beat Trump was marred by “widespread voter fraud.” Even after Biden’s 1/20/2021 inauguration, she still refused to accept that the election results were “free and fair.” After the 1/06/2021 fatal Capitol riot, she spoke out against the violence. However, just one day after calling for peace, Noem attacked the two newly-elected Democratic Senators from GA, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock, as “Communists (wiki).”
SD has voted for Democratic presidential candidates just four times since statehood, in 1896, 1932, 1936, and 1964. Even its own Democratic Senator George McGovern could not win here when he ran for president in 1972. Recently, Romney took SD by 18 points in 2012, and Trump beat Hillary and Biden in 2016 and 2020 getting 62% of the vote both times (Cohen & Cook). SD has an all GOP House and Senate lineup as well as a state GOP trifecta where the Gov. and state legislative chambers are “dripping Red (Cohen & Cook, 2022).” A 5/2022 survey showed that Gov. Noem had a “thermometer rating” of 75 on a scale of 1-100, even warmer than Donald’s 73 reading (listensdpb.org, Strubinger, 5/17/22). SD, however, does not represent the rest of the U.S. Democrats and moderates must understand that Noem represents modern cultic Republicanism and must overwhelmingly reject her views along with those of Demagogue Donald and Dictator DeSantis. Our democracy depends upon it.