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Horowitz: Why is Governor Kristi Noem attacking the small group of conservative South Dakota legislators?
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Horowitz: Why is Governor Kristi Noem attacking the small group of conservative South Dakota legislators?

Why are red states not nearly as red as California is blue? Why is it so hard to pass bills against chemical castration, COVID fascism, illegal immigration, and medical tyranny in states with few Democrats in the legislatures? Well, unfortunately, in red states it’s not so much the voters who control the arc of legislation, but the special interests. And in smaller red states, the Chamber of Commerce and the medical cartel wield an outsized share of influence, often turning red states into de facto anti-abortion/pro-gun versions of blue states. Nowhere is this more evident than in South Dakota.

On paper, Democrats are an endangered species in the Mount Rushmore State. Not a single labeled Democrat holds a state office. Republicans control the state Senate 32-3 and the state House 62-8. Sounds like a conservative paradise, right? Well, as it relates to abortion and guns, like most other red states, the politics reflects the political orientation of the majority of the people. Other issues? Democrats as may as well hold a super-majority, particularly in the Senate. They just run as Republicans.

In that vein, it was shocking to read how Governor Kristi Noem has declared war, not on the RINOs who legislate like Democrats, but on the few House Republicans who actually want to make the state distinct from a blue state. Last week, the Argus Leader reported that Noem is taking a “hands on” role in training candidates to run for legislature, including those challenging the few conservative incumbents.

Not seen as vulnerable in her primary, Noem says she's still not taking her party's nomination for governor for granted. But she is managing to find time to involve herself in some battleground legislative contests. She's offered candidate school seminars to up-and-coming politicians, making endorsements and even going as far as publicly chastising Republican incumbents she doesn't see eye to eye with politically.

Last month, for instance, Noem joined District 4 House candidate Stephanie Sauder on a radio program where she openly accused Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, of being a poor legislator doing damage to South Dakota's way of life.

According to the Argus Leader, the governor is also working with Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the president pro tempore, “to unseat far-right members of the party seeking re-election.”

Here is a list of targeted races based on a paper circulated by Schoenbeck referenced in the Argus Leader:

The highlighted members are the establishment picks not deemed “far right.”

But what does “far right” mean? People who oppose men in female sports, chemical castration of minors, corporations violating human rights and mandating dangerous shots, but support reduced taxes? The aforementioned issues have essentially been the dividing lines between the governor and some of the House conservatives over the past two years. These members were pushing for a half-percent reduction in the sales tax, but were stymied by the governor. Then they tried to eliminate the sales tax on food and institute a gas tax holiday, something done even in some blue states. Yet the governor evidently opposes it enough to primary them out of office.

Conservatives in the state and nationwide clashed with Governor Noem last year when she opposed the bill barring men in female sports.

“All of the people on her target list are true Christian conservatives, and those are the people she wants gone,” said Rep. Rhonda Milstead, the lead sponsor of HB 1217, the female sports bill, in an interview with TheBlaze.

Milstead also accuses the GOP establishment of targeting the most conservative members with new districting maps. “Our redistricting was awful because it put the people they want out in districts where they will have a hard time, or they placed solidly conservative people against each other in the same district,” charged the freshman, who represents the greater Sioux Falls area. Milstead claims the map was drawn with the intent of placing several other conservatives into her district.

Fred Deutsch of Watertown was placed into a new district because he was viewed as more repugnant to the GOP establishment than Joe Biden and the Democrats. His crime was the sponsoring of a bill banning chemical castration for minors, a bill that easily passed in numerous other red states. Yet this year, South Dakota failed to pass a single meaningful bill on any important issue, from transgenderism and illegal immigration to medical freedom and COVID fascism.

In an interview on KXLG in Watertown on April 21, Kristi Noem, who hails from that part of the state, lambasted Deutsch and others for being a drag on the state and sloppy legislators who don’t read bills and understand the consequences of good governance. “We need people who are thoughtful,” said Noem in a common refrain we hear from establishment Republicans.

Milstead disagrees. “Fred is an excellent researcher and probably does more research on the issues than the next 10 legislators. He always does his homework, even when I disagree with him, and Gov. Noem knows that.”

There is a common thread undergirding this intra-party battle in South Dakota that reverberates nationally in the Republican Party. It’s not a divide between conservatives and liberals or moderate Republicans and “far right” Republicans. It’s an unbridgeable gap between the priorities and the values of the average red state voter and the special interests that control the powerful entities in the state.

Although red-state Republican governors and legislative leaders will find some minor ways to distinguish themselves from Democrats, as it relates to the issues combatting the spirit of the age, they will always be incorrigibly on the side of the corporatists. Whether it’s transgendersim, mass refugee resettlement, illegal immigration, or COVID fascism, the powerful Republicans in office will always side with big business, which, unlike in past generations, is squarely on the side of cultural Marxism and against individual liberty. Even as it relates to the tax issue, which in the past united Republicans of ever ilk, the corporatist wing wants to focus on targeted tax provisions rather than broad-based cuts for obvious reasons.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the health care cartel. Sanford Health and Avera Health are the top employers in the state. It’s quite obvious why medical freedom will be taboo in the legislature. “The game is very simple,” notes Rep. Milstead. “The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations political action committee contributes to numerous liberal candidates around the state who they feel will walk the line on their issues. Most candidates do not have a lot of money, and so they operate with a sense of fear over what these lobbyists and PACs can do to them.”

Rep. Steve Haugaard is running against Noem in the June 7 primary. On his campaign website, he makes it clear that it is not any one issue that is motivating his run, but the power structure behind the results we see on numerous issues. “The axis of Big Tech, Big Business, Big Education, and Hollywood have changed our culture dramatically just in the past decade,” writes the former House speaker, who now faces a David vs. Goliath contest. “Today, large multinational corporations are dictating how we should live, how our children are raised, and what values our children should be taught.”

The South Dakota Constitution begins with the phrase, “We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties …” Today, we face the challenge of corporations that have essentially become an arm of government or often even stronger than government, with the ability to destroy civil and religious liberty while shielding elected government officials from having to do the dirty work. They often enable elected red-state Republicans to campaign on doing the opposite, knowing full well they will work hand in glove with the lobbyists of those entities to silence the voice of the people.

Thus, anyone who wants to advance the cause of liberty and traditional values beyond the two legacy issues will inevitably have to engage in a full-scale war with the most powerful interests of the state. It is not for the faint of heart.

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Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz

Blaze Podcast Host

Daniel Horowitz is the host of “Conservative Review with Daniel Horowitz” and a senior editor for Blaze News.
@RMConservative →