PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — House Minority Leader Jamie Smith is running to become South Dakota’s first Democratic governor in decades.

Smith, a Democratic lawmaker from Sioux Falls in District 15, announced his intentions by saying “rumors were true” about him running to be the state’s chief executive.

Smith, a former teacher who now works in real estate, said good government starts at the top. He said he is running to respect the will of the people.

He said he’ll never attack a group of people because he disagrees with them. He called on people to help support his campaign. He called on people to visit his campaign website — www.smithforgov.org.

Smith said his job is to separate himself from current Governor Kristi Noem. He said he needs to build an army and have a grassroots effort to appeal to the voters of South Dakota.

Sen. Troy Heinert (D-Mission) started the announcement calling Smith a “friend” and true “South Dakotan.” 

Noem announced her re-election bid about three months ago, while former Speaker of the House Steve Haugaard (R-Sioux Falls) announced he’ll challenge Noem for the Republican nomination. 

Barry Hulse, of Vermillion, has filed paperwork starting a statewide candidate committee for governor with the secretary of state’s office. Hulse plans to run for the Democratic nomination for governor, but he hasn’t made a formal announcement of his candidacy.

Smith said he doesn’t anticipate a primary for the Democratic nomination but will tackle it if one comes.

Noem’s campaign manager, Joe Desilets, released a statement about Smith’s announcement calling Smith “an extreme liberal whose policies have been rejected by South Dakotans for decades.”

Smith laughed at the statement and told reporters he is not “an extreme liberal.”

You can watch the full announcement in the video player below:

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