SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Governor Kristi Noem will serve a second term in Pierre.

The Associated Press called the race Tuesday evening.

With 686 out of 687 precincts reporting on Wednesday morning, Noem leads with 62% over Democratic challenger Jamie Smith (33%) and Libertarian Tracey Quint (3%).

Smith conceded shortly after the AP called the race

Noem celebrated her victory in Sioux Falls with supporters and Senator John Thune and House Representative Dusty Johnson.

“Listen, over the last four years, we’ve built something really special here in our state. It was because of all of you, because of the wonderful people who live here,” Noem said. “When I wake up in the morning to do my job, I do it based on our state’s motto, which is under God, the people rule.”

In her victory speech, Noem said that South Dakota has served as an example to the country and represents ideas of freedom and opportunity.

“And now Americans are looking across the country. And they’re looking to South Dakota as a shining city on a hill,” Noem said.

She also congratulated opponent Smith on his campaign.

Noem’s campaign for a second term focused on touting the “freedom” South Dakota offers, as well as the state’s economy, an anti-Critical Race Theory stance in education, and the “open for business” approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Noem also focused on President Joe Biden’s policies saying that they have contributed to rising inflation that is hurting South Dakota families.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Noem came out in support of repealing the grocery sales tax, a measure she had previously opposed both as governor and in the South Dakota legislature. 

An October poll from KELOLAND Media Group, Emerson College and The Hill showed Noem with a double-digit lead over Smith but the Democrat said his campaign is seeing a much closer race. According to the poll, 56% of likely voters were planning to vote for Noem. The margin of error was 2.4%.

The SDSU Poll showed a more narrow margin of 4 points with Noem coming out on top. That poll had a margin of error of 4%.

First elected to the governor’s office in 2018, Noem became the first woman to hold the office. Noem clinched the narrow win against Democrat Billie Sutton 51-47.

Prior to her time as the state’s top leader, Noem served in the United States House of Representatives and in the South Dakota House of Representatives.

The inauguration for Governor Noem will take place on January 7, 2023. 

A look at the candidates

Democrat Jamie Smith has served in the South Dakota House of Representatives for six years in addition to being a Sioux Falls real estate agent and a former teacher.

Smith has focused on education, nursing homes, child care, agriculture and health care in his campaign.

When Tracey Quint first moved to South Dakota in 2016, she didn’t feel represented by the Democratic or Republican Parties but found similar values with the Libertarian Party.

Quint is a proponent of personal freedoms, less taxes, access to abortion and criminal justice reform.

Governor Kristi Noem was first elected to the governor’s office in 2018 after serving in the South Dakota Legislature and United States House of Representatives. 

Noem’s campaign has heavily focused on personal freedom, South Dakota’s economy, agriculture and combatting President Joe Biden’s policies that she says are hurting South Dakota’s families.

KELOLAND News will have coverage of this race and others throughout Election Day 2022 on-air and online.