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Noem's Future On Capitol Hill

November 3, 2010, 5:55 PM by Perry Groten

Noem's Future On Capitol Hill
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Kristi Noem is riding a wave of Republican dominance that's changed the political landscape on Capitol Hill. Noem defeated Democratic incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for South Dakota's lone U.S. House seat. We look at what Noem's election could mean to South Dakota over the next two years.

Political analysts and voters alike will closely follow Noem's first few weeks and months in office. An Augustana College political science professor says being in the new majority party in the House bodes well for Noem's political future.

Noem's success on Election Night could vault her into a plumb appointment as a subcommittee chair in the U.S. House.

"That tends to happen, especially when you win a seat that had in the past been a fairly secure seat for the other party and sometimes you get some notice," Augustana College political science professor Brent Lerseth said.

Lerseth says Noem will be an advocate for bringing federal dollars to South Dakota, despite running as a fiscal conservative who was critical of wasteful stimulus spending.

"And she's already said for example that she'd want to make sure that we maintain funding for Ellsworth and some of those things too, so whereas other states may look at that and say those funds would be better used in our states for our projects, I think she's going to continue to say that for South Dakota as well," Lerseth said.

Lerseth says while Noem will try to position herself to champion issues important to South Dakota like agriculture, she'll run into the hard political reality that Democrats are still in charge of the Senate and White House.

"And so anything that you're really supporting or your party's supporting is going to have to be understood as one that has to be at least a compromise position to have any chance of passing," Lerseth said.

But all Congressional newcomers face a legislative learning curve, so Noem will have to do her homework.

"There's obviously a huge transition going from the state legislature to Congress and a reality sets in very quickly that you're one vote among 435," Lerseth said.

Lerseth says Independent House candidate B. Thomas Marking likely took votes away from both Noem and Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Lerseth says Marking's surprisingly strong finish may force both parties to look at ways to appeal to Independent voters.

Click on the play button below to hear more from Lerseth.

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