SIOUX FALLS - Today, Cook Political Report dramatically shifted the state of play towards Senator Billie Sutton in South Dakota’s governor’s race, rating the race a “Toss Up.”
And it’s no wonder they think the race is competitive. Kristi Noem is a DC insider who has been serving special interest donors instead of representing South Dakotans.
Jennifer Duffy of Cook Political writes, “After winning the primary, Noem‘s campaign seemed to take its foot off the gas, seemingly taking the race granted.”
Meanwhile, Senator Billie Sutton has championed ending corruption in Pierre, getting things done for South Dakota, and moving on from politics as usual.
Sutton said, “We’ve known from the beginning that this race is competitive. South Dakotans deserve a governor that has their best interests in mind. I look forward to earning the votes of everyday South Dakotans over the next five weeks and bringing honesty, integrity and hard work back to Pierre.”
This ratings shift comes after a new poll released last week shows Sutton up three points on Kristi Noem, 45 - 42.
Read the Cook Political Report’s write up below:
A confluence of factors has made this race far more competitive than an open-seat contest in a solidly Republican state would suggest. Republicans nominated At-Large U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem. Given that she has won four statewide elections, Noem should be something of a slam dunk to be the state’s next Governor. But, Noem is a member of an unpopular majority in an even more unpopular Congress running in a year in which the political environment is less than favorable for her party. After winning the primary, Noem‘s campaign seemed to take its foot off the gas, seemingly taking the race granted. It hasn’t helped that Noem has spent much of her time in Washington tending to her congressional duties. GOP strategists say that now that the House is out of session until after the election, Noem is completely focused on the race and is aggressively campaigning.
The second set of factors is on the Democratic side. The Democrats nominee is 34-year-old state Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton. Sutton, who became a paraplegic after injuries suffered in a rodeo accident, is a moderate with a strong personal narrative who an appealing presence on television. He is campaigning on a plan to end corruption in the state capital. According to Democratic strategists, as a member of Congress, voters don’t see Noem as a credible messenger on an issue they see as a priority. Noem and Republicans are trying to morph Sutton into Hillary Clinton, who he supported in 2016, but his moderate record might make that a hard sell.
While Republicans acknowledge that the race is very close today, they believe that the overwhelmingly Republican nature of the state will carry Noem across the finish line. Democrats are cautiously optimistic that they might pull off the upset of the cycle. The contest is now in the Toss Up column.