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Kristi Noem Doing Well for South Dakota, Earns Seat at Table for Farm Bill Negotiations [OPINION]

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Recent events in Washington have produced all sorts of political chatter as parties and individuals do what they’ve always done, as they never let a crisis go to waste, and attempt to point fingers and blame to gain advantage of their own.

Examples include pronouncements by the Democrat Party chastising the Rapid City Journal for not blaming Republicans enough. I suppose because they’d rather not have the finger of blame pointed at them.

Another includes Facebook postings from the “People for Steve Jarding” pronouncing that “Steve Jarding may be the only South Dakotan who can help take the U.S. House back from the Tea Party Shut-Downers” as they admonish people to “tell (Kristi Noem) if Steve Jarding decides to run against her, she’ll be taken behind the woodshed and sent back to her farm.”

Boastful & inappropriate threats of taking our Congresswoman “behind the woodshed” aside, it appears that the truth isn’t the version being written by the far right or the far left.  While those who want to promote themselves as able to run against Noem try to paint the Congresswoman as a fervent member of “the Tea Party,” that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As is usually the case, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The national group “Heritage Action” has been scoring candidates for several years with their Scorecard measuring “votes, co-sponsorships, and other legislative activity to show how conservative Members of Congress are.”

Where did Congresswoman Noem end up on this group’s scorecard?  The Heritage Action Fund’s ranking put Noem at right leaning, but decidedly middle of the road 56%.

Why would she be ranking so lowly on the scorecard, despite Democrat’s admonishments to the media that she’s to the right of Michelle Bachmann?

Because these self-appointed bastions of conservatism in Washington don’t like the fact that Congresswoman Noem (and Senator Thune as well) don’t always vote the way they like on things that are important to many South Dakotans.  If these groups had their way, our delegation would:

  • Eliminate essential air service which serves many SD Communities.
  • Vote against the farm bill in all instances.
  • Cut funding for ethanol research.
  • Raise the price (or eliminate) crop insurance for South Dakota farmers.
  • Force main street businesses to pay taxes that internet vendors escape.

It all leaves me asking – which of those would we want to do without in South Dakota?

If Congresswoman Noem was as “Tea Party,” as those who want her job oppose her claim, I sincerely doubt that special interest groups wouldn’t be chiding her for supporting ethanol, essential air service, and the farm bill.

Speaking of the Farm Bill & Congresswoman Noem; this past week marked the first time in 17 years that a Congressman from South Dakota has a seat at the table in conference committee hearings that are taking place on the Farm Bill.  That’s a position of importance at least a couple of her immediate predecessors didn’t have.

But we don’t see cheers from her detractors for that.

In recent months, there were several reports that she fought her leadership and admonished them on the importance of the Farm Bill, demanding to know how the Majority Leader “was going to mop up the mess,” when a vote for the farm bill failed in June.

Yet, no Democrat said “way to stand up for South Dakota” when that took place.

The fact of the matter is that going into her third election, the only focus Democrats have is to try to marginalize the Congresswoman.

After her second election, it was evident that Congresswoman Noem took notes in that election and made a concerted effort to be better.  In her second term, she tightened up her organization in South Dakota, and found a strong footing to move forward on.

She’s not focused on being who other groups & people want her to be, including Republican Leadership. What she is focused on is doing a good job for South Dakota.  Her tenacity has been rewarded by having a seat at the table at the discussions on the Farm Bill.

And despite the puffery of political hacks who have yet to enter the race, I suspect it will also be rewarded at the ballot box come November 2014.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Pat Powers and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.

South Dakota War College

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