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Sticking with that mentality, she has already made two strategic picks for staff with home-state ties in Jordan Stoick and Joshua Shields. Stoick, a former aide to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Shields, a former aide to Thune, will serve as her chief of staff and communications director, respectively.
“You want them to hold you accountable to your goals as well, but you also want to hit the ground running and be effective while you are here, too, and not spend a lot of time getting up to speed on procedures,” Noem said of the hires.
Still, Noem may run into trouble with keeping her promise to reduce the deficit and toe the GOP line of forcing spending cuts, particularly when it comes to key issues for South Dakota such as agricultural subsidies. Noem played it safe when asked whether she would take definitive measures on changing the funding mechanisms in the upcoming farm bill.
“It’s going to be a big topic of discussion,” Noem said. “I think all in all, every person that is going to be here and is serious about reducing our debt and deficit has to be willing to have the conversations on even those tough topics.”
Noem has said she is interested in spots on the Agriculture, Energy and Commerce, and Natural Resources committees.
She said she would be effective working on issues important to South Dakota even if she doesn’t get on one of those committees.
“We’ve got a pretty diverse state. With a lot of committees, the work they do impacts South Dakota,” Noem said.
Rep. Kay Granger (Texas) noted that Noem’s election showcases the increasing diversity of the House Republican Conference and the talent in the freshman class.
Granger, who served in leadership in the 110th Congress and was the only woman on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s executive board in the 2010 cycle, said the addition of Noem to the leadership table was “very significant.”
“I think she’s great,” Granger said. “She’s very articulate, very principled and high energy.”
She said Republicans “need the creativity” that Noem and her freshman colleagues bring to the table as the GOP gets set to rewrite the rules and change the way Congress operates.
Noem said she has looked to GOP women such as McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Lynn Jenkins (Kan.) for guidance. Jenkins talked to Noem throughout her campaign to help encourage her.
“It will be great to get here in January and have more time to spend with them,” Noem said. But getting ingratiated in Washington politics, Noem said, isn’t her biggest priority.
“I tried to stay true [to myself] from the beginning,” Noem said, noting her mother’s refrain: “My mom said, ‘Kristi, people don’t want somebody who is perfect. ... They want somebody who works hard for them, and just be yourself.’”
Jackie Kucinich contributed to this report.