PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Early voting opens Friday in South Dakota’s general election. KELOLAND News asked Jamie Smith of Sioux Falls, the House Democrat leader, about his decision to challenge the Republican incumbent, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Here are his answers.

When did you make the decision to run?

I decided to run in mid-January.

How long had you thought about running? Did someone approach you to encourage a candidacy — and if so, who? — or did you make this decision on your own?

I made it clear that this was not going to be the time I ran for statewide office. The party respected that. But as we moved through the legislative term, I started to realize that the person who should be running for this job was staring back at me in the mirror.

Did you ask your family for their views on a possible candidacy?

Yes, there were many discussions with family, and I sought their thoughts every step of the way.

Did it matter that you would face an incumbent?

If it was Dennis Daugaard, I probably would have sat out. However, following the absence and neglect of the current administration, I felt a duty to give South Dakotans a choice for better leadership. 

Did the 40-plus consecutive years of Republican victories for the office matter to you?

That’s the reality of the situation, however, the main driving force to do this was to bring leadership that focuses on South Dakota. 

How was the initial news of your plan to be a candidate met within the Democratic Party leadership?

The party leadership was excited to not only have a candidate, but have one with leadership experience. 

Was there any baseline polling by your campaign or a reliable outside group that showed the candidates’ name ID and support/opposition/undecided? Has there been any since? If so, what have those shown?

I won’t comment on specific polling numbers, but I will say that we came into this race knowing we could win. At no point have we ever doubted that.