SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The negative advertisements have started in South Dakota’s gubernatorial race.
There’s 38 days until early voting starts in South Dakota (Sept. 23) and 84 days until Election Day (Nov. 8). South Dakotans can expect to see more and more negative ads as November approaches.
Two candidates spoke to KELOLAND News and said they hope the attacks won’t dominate the tone of the race for South Dakota’s top office.
“We want to be positive when we can be positive,” Sioux Falls lawmaker and Democratic nominee Jamie Smith said. “We don’t necessarily think it’s negative to point out decisions that were made by our governor and policy decisions that run counter to what South Dakotans believe.”
Smith, who has a series of TV ads of two men watching Governor Kristi Noem’s ad and commenting on Noem’s travels out-of-state, said he’ll be selling himself more in future ads instead of attacking Noem.
“I want the people of South Dakota to know that I’m focused on them. I’m focused on real South Dakota problems,” Smith said. “(I) will not import problems to the state of South Dakota to make political splashes to then run on a national ticket.”
“Jamie Smith is lying about his record because it doesn’t match the values of South Dakotans,” Ian Fury, Communications Director for the Noem campaign, said in a news release. “Governor Noem will always shoot straight with voters and be clear about what she believes.”
Fury told KELOLAND News Gov. Noem has been focusing on South Dakota’s strong economy and the success of her “Open for Business” approach in her ads.
“The ads themselves have been positive,” Fury said in an emailed statement. “The reception has been positive. But the people of South Dakota should also know about Jamie Smith’s liberal record and his support and similarity to Joe Biden.”
Smith said his campaign is focused on South Dakota and not national politics.
“Last time I looked at my driver’s license, it said my name is Jamie Smith,” Smith said. “I’ve never met Joe Biden.”
Smith said he’d defend his voting record and noted the American Conservative Union Foundation rankings are twisted in Noem’s attack ad against him.
“The study they’re referring to, they say, I’m the 10th-most liberal Democrat,” Smith said. “There are only 11 of us so that you could flip around and say, I’m also the second-most conservative Democrat in there.”
Libertarian candidate Tracey Quint, who will appear second on the official ballot order, told KELOLAND News she’s heard from voters complaining about candidates complaining about each other.
“I think as a third party, one of the things we’re really trying to combat is the negative tone of the campaigns,” Quint said. “In recent elections, not only here in South Dakota, but nationally, a lot of elections have ended up being about trying to vote against somebody rather than voting for somebody.”
The Libertarian Party was officially recognized as an official party in South Dakota in 2016. In 2018, a federal judge ruled South Dakota’s ballot access laws were too restrictive for newly-qualifying parties and that’s why the Libertarian Party can have candidates nominated at a party convention qualify for the ballot.
“We don’t have the budget that the Democrat Party or the Republican Party have,” Quint said. “But if we’re running ads, we really want it to be more of this is what we’re going to do for South Dakota.”
Quint, who grew up in Nebraska and now lives in Sioux Falls, said she’s been a member of the Libertarian Party since 2016. She supports South Dakotans having the freedom to make decisions for themselves. She said her campaign has been trying to reach voters in one-on-one settings like county fairs and big gatherings.
“Just being able to be there and meet with the people and actually have a conversation,” Quint said. “Rather than just throwing up an ad on TV and hoping for the best.”
Smith said on the campaign trail he’s heard from South Dakotans who are concerned about lowering taxes for working people. He said people are concerned about healthcare and making sure working people in the state have access to healthcare
“When an incumbent runs a negative ad this early in the campaign, there must be something that they’re worried about,” Smith said. “They’re worried about a person that is focused on solving real South Dakota problems.”