South Dakota is a reliably red state that has fully endorsed Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) in the run-up to the 2024 election. It’s also a state that hasn’t enjoyed a visit from former president and GOP front-runner Donald Trump since 2020. South Dakota, boasting only three electoral votes, seldom draws much attention from the GOP.
Trump is on his way to the South Dakota Republican Party’s Monumental Leaders rally as a featured guest, and the GOP is ablaze with rumors that Trump is eying Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) as his running mate.
For her part, Noem is expected to endorse Trump at the rally. She maintains a friendship with the former president and has noted in the past that he seems to be the only candidate with a “path for victory.” She said she would “absolutely” join the ticket “in a heartbeat” as Trump’s running mate if she was asked.
Noem has a deep and warm connection to Trump. To mark a campaign speech he delivered in 2020 at Mount Rushmore, she presented him with a $1,000 replica of the iconic monument featuring his likeness carved into it. Then, in preparation for her 2022 reelection campaign, she organized a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, where she was joined by Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Noem noted that Trump’s running mate would need to be a strong individual who, like the entrepreneur himself, understands how to run a business. She observed that a good running mate will also understand the struggles of earning a paycheck and went on to add that “having a wife, mom, and grandma” would be beneficial in creating effective policies.
The South Dakota governor has been shortlisted as a potential vice-presidential candidate alongside Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy, but she may have the edge she needs to gain the coveted spot. She has artfully avoided the complications arising from a presidential bid and can remain neutral without having to weigh in on Trump’s legal battles, election fraud, or January 6.
Noem has been quietly gearing up for something big. She is running a national ad blitz designed to bring more job seekers to South Dakota. The ad campaign, costing an estimated $5 million, is increasing her name recognition. Viewers of the first Republican debate saw those ads across the nation. In addition, she is often featured on Fox News.
The South Dakota governor was one of the few states who kept her state open for business during the pandemic, but until now, she has been relegated to the sidelines. All eyes remain on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who earned COVID-Rockstar Status by keeping his own state open. Now, with DeSantis’ future on the presidential stage anything but assured, Noem appears poised not only to endorse Trump but to join his ticket.
In South Dakota, Noem’s recent actions have garnered attention, causing both her supporters and critics to speculate on her political ambitions beyond the state.
An anonymous Noem donor from South Dakota expressed their perspective on the governor’s intentions, suggesting that not only is she gearing up for the vice presidency, but she may also be looking to carry on the MAGA message if Trump falls from favor.
The donor emphasized, “Everybody assumes she’s running,” the donor continued. “It’s very obvious. Not a week goes by where she’s not on Fox News. It’s a national strategy.”
Central to this strategy is the possibility that Trump, in addition to securing the nomination, may consider alternative candidates than his current competition when seeking to fill the vice-presidential role. But Trump, who notably skipped the initial GOP debate, has hinted at his interest in the potential vice-presidential contenders among the lower-polling candidates, stating, “Let them debate so I can see who I might consider for Vice President!” in a summer post on Truth Social.
Noem warns that it’s still too early for Trump to choose a running mate but emphasizes her willingness to step up if asked. She told Fox News that if Trump approached her to fill the role, “Of course, I would consider it.”
But with Trump’s current legal battles, sources close to him have noted that choosing a running mate is not at the top of the former president’s priorities. They do, however, confirm that Noem is included on his list of potential picks.
Energized, intelligent, popular, and articulate, Noem is showing great potential on the political battlefield. If she doesn’t gain the vice presidency in 2024, she may be the GOP candidate to watch in 2028.