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Published June 12, 2013, 09:31 AM

Noem passes on Senate to seek House seat again

Kristi Noem announced Tuesday she will seek re-election to South Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat next year rather than challenge former Gov. Mike Rounds for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

By: Chet Broakaw, Forum News Service

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Kristi Noem announced Tuesday she will seek re-election to South Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat next year rather than challenge former Gov. Mike Rounds for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination.

Noem, 41, had been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate by some Republicans who believe Rounds is not conservative enough on tax and budget issues, but she said she decided to seek a third term in the House after discussing the future with her husband and children over the weekend.

Noem said she believes she can best serve South Dakota as a member of the House.

“It is a privilege to serve South Dakota in the House, and while I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish, there is a lot more we must do. At the top of that list is getting a full five-year Farm Bill passed to give our agriculture industry the certainty needed to plan for the future,” Noem said in a written statement first posted on her Facebook page.

Noem said she will work hard to elect a Republican to the Senate seat now held by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson, who has announced he will not seek re-election next year. She said Republicans are needed in the Senate to rein in spending, reduce the federal debt and protect liberties.

Rounds’ campaign manager, Rob Skjonsberg, said Rounds was out of the state Tuesday, but Noem called Rounds earlier in the day to discuss her decision. Rounds has pledged to help Noem win re-election to the House, he said.

“It’s time to come together and support a united team for South Dakota,” Skjonsberg said.

Noem is a rancher and former state lawmaker from Castlewood who was first elected to Congress as part of the 2010 Republican wave that put the House under GOP control.

Bob Burns, a retired South Dakota State University political science professor, said Noem would have been taking a big gamble if she had run for the Senate against Rounds.

“She had a lot to lose if she didn’t capture the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. She’s probably going the safer route by seeking reelection to the U.S. House,” Burns said.

If Noem had run for the Senate, she also would have left the House seat more vulnerable to Democratic attempts to regain it, Burns said.

Rounds remains the only announced Republican candidate for Senate.

Rick Weiland, an ex-staffer for former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, is the only announced candidate on the Democratic side.

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