Who Could Run for Kristi Noem’s At-Large Seat?

South Dakota lawmaker’s retirement opens up safe GOP seat in 2018

Rep. Kristi Noem’s decision not to run for re-election in 2018 has opened up a wide GOP field for her at-large seat. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Kristi Noem’s Monday announcement that she’s running for governor in 2018 leaves South Dakota Republicans jockeying for a rare opportunity to come to Washington, D.C.

Noem has held the state’s at-large seat for three terms. She won a fourth term last week. With her departure, the Republican conference could be down another woman depending on who runs to replace her. 

GOP operatives mentioned several potential candidates:

  • Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, who previously served 10 years in the state legislature. 
  • Dusty Johnson, the former chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard. He left the governor’s office in 2014 to become the director of consulting for Vantage Point Solutions, an engineering and consulting company. He previously headed the Public Utilities Commission, an elected position.
  • Current Public Utilities Commissioner and former Secretary of State Chris Nelson. He was considered the front-runner for the at-large congressional seat six years ago before Noem defeated him in the primary.
  • State Sen. R. Blake Curd, who also ran for the seat in 2010. 
  • Former state Sen. Larry Rhoden, who just won a seat in the state House. He ran for the seat junior Sen. Michael Rounds won in 2014 and could throw his hat in the ring for the at-large congressional seat.
  • Former state Rep. Stace Nelson, who was elected to the state Senate this year. He also ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014 and could run for the at-large seat.

Noem won re-election last week by 28 points, a race that was rated Safe Republican by The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call. Mitt Romney won the state by 18 points in 2012.  

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