Kristi Noem, Moderate?

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been under heavy fire from the Left over the last year, as a result of being America’s most pro-freedom governor, while leading one of the country’s most successful states. No surprise there. It is, however, a little odd to see her taking fire from the right, in the form of this piece at the American Thinker. The author looks at Noem’s eight years in the House of Representatives and finds her record insufficiently conservative and perhaps insufficiently distinguished.

But we aren’t talking about Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins here. Noem is a solid conservative, as reflected in her 77% lifetime ACU conservative rating. In her last two years in Congress, 2017 and 2018, her ACU rating was 81% and 82%, respectively. Noem was a member of the House leadership team, which tends to depress conservative ratings because leadership is more or less required to vote in favor of compromise legislation they have negotiated, while backbenchers have the luxury of voting “no.”

Representative Noem was highly respected during her term in Congress, as reflected in the fact that she was chosen to be the Class of 2010’s representative to the leadership team. She was on the final conference committee that crafted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a signature achievement of the Trump administration. She was also on the conference committee for 2014 farm bill, and helped to negotiate both the USMCA and the Phase One China Deal, both of which opened up markets for South Dakota’s agricultural products.

The American Thinker piece acknowledges that Noem has been a staunch pro-lifer, and the first bill that she signed into law as Governor of South Dakota was a Constitutional Carry act to protect the state’s firearms rights.

The Thinker piece rehearses the familiar, but pointless, comparison between Kristi Noem and Sarah Palin. I was a fan of Palin, but she had nothing like Noem’s record of solid achievement. And it would be futile to try to convince anyone who watched Noem’s CPAC speech, or who has followed her career as governor, that she is anything but a philosophically committed conservative.

Here is the acid test, though: my South Dakota relatives, who are at least as conservative as I am and who know her family, think the world of her. If she is conservative enough for South Dakota conservatives, trust me, she is more than conservative enough for America. I have no idea whether Kristi Noem will wind up on the national ticket in 2024, but I would certainly be happy to see her there.

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