In a speech to supporters, Matt Varilek acknowledged that knocking off an incumbent won't be easy, but he says he is ready to campaign against Kristi Noem for South Dakota's only U.S. House seat.
Varilek beat Jeff Barth to win the Democratic nomination for U.S. House on Tuesday.
Varilek says that while the primary win is a major milestone, it's just one step in "the ultimate goal of winning back the U.S. House seat for the people of South Dakota." The former staffer for Senator Tim Johnson says he got a lot of feedback from South Dakotans as he campaigned across the state. He says he heard from people who are disappointed in the lack of leadership from Noem, people who are tired of Tea Party extremism and some who don't agree with the 'my way or the highway' attitude that only delivers more gridlock in Congress.
Varilek pledged to be an energetic voice for the people of South Dakota.
"It's not enough to have a seat at the table," Varilek said. "We need a dedicated, focused, hard-working member of Congress to use that seat for the benefit of farmers, and ranchers, and seniors, and veterans, and students, and hard-working people all across South Dakota. And that is the kind of Congressman I will be."
Also in his acceptance speech, Varilek responded to recent questions about Noem's participation, saying his approach in Congress will be, "I'll show up."
For her part, Noem issued a statement following Varilek's win.
She says: "I want to congratulate Matt Varilek on his primary win tonight. It's my hope that this will be a campaign that focuses on the issues that matter most to South Dakotans. I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish for our state in the last eighteen months. From passing a bill to protect South Dakota farmers from more burdensome regulation by the EPA to my work on the pine beetle epidemic, I've always put the interests of our state first. I am running for re-election to continue fighting for fiscal responsibility, to work towards replacing the president's health care law with an approach that gives patients more control and Washington less control, and to keep up the fight to stop Washington's war on the family farm. I look forward to a spirited campaign on these and other important issues this fall."
Click on the video player below to watch to Varilek's acceptance speech.