Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, 2nd term.

Born: November 30, 1971, Watertown, SD

Home: Castlewood, SD

Education: SD St. U., B.A. 2012; attended Northern St. U., Mount Marty Col.

Professional Career: Farmer, rancher.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Evangelical

Family: Married (Bryon Noem) , 3 children

Republican Kristi Noem prevailed in one of the most closely followed races of 2010 by eking out a win over Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. A conservative and telegenic outdoorswoman, Noem often is compared to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, but she avoids Palin’s incendiary rhetoric.

Noem (NOME) was born in Hamlin County, S.D., and graduated from high school there. She attended college but came home to help run the family farm after her father died in a fall into a grain bin while trying to unclog a feeder line, an accident that she discussed in her first campaign ad. An avid hunter of elk, pheasant, and other game, Noem later owned a hunting lodge and also worked a variety of jobs, including a stint as a restaurant manager. When she was elected to Congress, the 38-year-old Noem raised Angus cattle and quarter horses on a ranch she shared with her husband, Bryon.

After developing an interest in conservative causes, Noem ran for the South Dakota House and narrowly won in 2006. She established herself as a forceful figure in the legislature, earning her GOP colleagues’ respect when she questioned a Democratic state senator’s sponsorship of a bill to expand casino-style gambling in the state while the senator’s law firm was representing an American Indian tribe. She was quickly promoted to assistant majority leader.

Noem said she decided to challenge Herseth Sandlin in February 2010 after becoming disenchanted with rising federal spending and the ballooning national debt. In the GOP primary, two-term Secretary of State Chris Nelson had more name recognition and experience, and state Rep. Blake Curd raised more money. But Noem, who emphasized that she didn’t plan to make politics a career, struck a chord with voters. One of them told The Washington Post, “She’s the mama grizzly that we hope for.” Despite the comparisons to Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Noem regularly resisted such labeling and said she didn’t want the Alaskan’s help on the campaign trail. She also talked more about South Dakota issues than national matters. Noem won the June primary with 42%, to Nelson’s 35% and Curd’s 23%.

After her victory, Noem began collecting substantial campaign contributions from out-of-state Republican interests, enabling her to out-raise Herseth Sandlin in the early part of the campaign. She also drew campaign help from operatives associated with Sen. John Thune, a popular Republican who toppled Democrat Tom Daschle in 2004 when Daschle was the Senate minority leader. Outside conservative groups poured about $2 million into the race, more than three times what Herseth Sandlin collected from outside Democratic groups. Noem sought to tie her opponent to liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and promised to cut spending and help small businesses create jobs.

Herseth Sandlin, a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition of fiscally conservative House Democrats who had won her last two elections with more than 70% of the vote, touted her credentials as a moderate who opposed Pelosi on several high-profile measures, including the health care overhaul. She played down her party affiliation, leaving it out of her campaign literature entirely. The incumbent did receive help from the state’s Democratic Party, which sought to make an issue of Noem’s 20 speeding tickets and other traffic violations over two decades—a sore point in a state where GOP Rep. Bill Janklow resigned in 2004 after he ran a stop sign and killed a motorcyclist. Herseth Sandlin succeeded Janklow. Noem was ticketed three times for stop-sign violations and once for driving 94 mph in a 75 mph zone; she also received six notices for failing to appear in court. She responded to the criticism by saying that she is not proud of her driving record and is working to be a better example to young drivers.

The issue seemed to matter little to voters: Noem won 48%-46%, with independent B. Thomas Marking drawing 6%. Herseth Sandlin was competitive in many rural counties and took Sioux Falls-based Minnehaha County, which cast the largest number of votes, 50%-45%. But Noem won neighboring Lincoln County 52%-43% and Pennington County, which includes Rapid City, 58%-37%.

In Washington, Noem was named one of two freshman class representatives to the GOP leadership. She joined fellow GOP freshman Stephen Fincher of Tennessee in leading an effort in 2011 against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to regulate dust as part of air quality standards, arguing it would hurt farmers and ranchers. She joined her party in backing a budget that eliminated an Agriculture Department flood control program, but later requested federal disaster aid to cope with South Dakota’s spring flooding—a move that led state Democrats to accuse her of hypocrisy. She worked on other issues of local interest, including a measure to transfer ownership of nine cemeteries in the Black Hills from the federal government to the communities that have managed them. It passed the House in 2012 but the Senate didn’t take it up, and she reintroduced it in 2013.

Noem became a favorite with activists on the right, drawing a cheer at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2011 when she declared, “A lot of us freshmen don’t have a whole lot of knowledge, necessarily, about the way that Washington, D.C., is operated. And, frankly, we don’t really care.” Though she voted mostly in accordance with the Republican leadership’s wishes, she made sure to distance herself from them at times. At a December 2012 town hall meeting, she told voters that she understood their anger toward House Speaker John Boehner for striking a deal with the Obama White House on taxes and spending to avoid a so-called “fiscal cliff.” She said, “What bothers me is that we don’t get out there and tell the American people that the House has already passed these bills that extended all the tax rates.”

Herseth Sandlin declined a rematch with Noem in 2012, and her opponent became Democrat Matt Varilek, a former aide to Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson. Varilek impressed local observers by raising close to $1 million and hitting Noem on missing Agriculture Committee hearings. Still, Noem raised $2.8 million and won by a comfortable if not totally dominant 57%-43%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2801

(202) 225-5823

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2422
Washington, DC 20515-4101

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2801

(202) 225-5823

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2422
Washington, DC 20515-4101

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-2801

(202) 225-5823

300 North Dakota Avenue Suite 314
Sioux Falls, SD 57104

DISTRICT OFFICE

(605) 275-2868

(605) 275-2875

300 North Dakota Avenue Suite 314
Sioux Falls, SD 57104

DISTRICT OFFICE

(605) 878-2868

(605) 878-2871

818 South Broadway Suite 113
Watertown, SD 57201

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-2801

(202) 225-5823

818 South Broadway Suite 113
Watertown, SD 57201

DISTRICT OFFICE

(605) 791-4673

(605) 791-4679

343 Quincy Street
Rapid City, SD 57701-3797

DISTRICT OFFICE

(202) 225-2801

(202) 225-5823

2525 West Main Street Suite 310
Rapid City, SD 57702

DISTRICT OFFICE

(605) 262-2862

(605) 262-2869

415 South Main Street Suite 203
Aberdeen, SD 57401-4304

DISTRICT OFFICE

(605) 262-2862

(605) 262-2869

415 South Main Street Suite 203
Aberdeen, SD 57401-4304

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(202) 225-2801

(202) 225-5823

PO Box 852
Sioux Falls, SD 57101-7101

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 852
Sioux Falls, SD 57101-7101

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Acquisitions

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Agriculture

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Appropriations

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Arts

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Banking

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Budget

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Disability

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Education

Matthew Hittle
Legislative Assistant

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Energy

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Environment

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Family

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Finance

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Foreign

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Gun Issues

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Health

Matthew Hittle
Legislative Assistant

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Matthew Hittle
Legislative Assistant

Human Rights

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Immigration

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Intelligence

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Internet

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Judiciary

Matthew Hittle
Legislative Assistant

Labor

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Land Use

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Medicare

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Military

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Minorities

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Native Americans

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Privacy

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Recreation

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Rules

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Science

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Seniors

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Small Business

Matthew Hittle
Legislative Assistant

Social Security

Matthew Hittle
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Technology

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Trade

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Transportation

Andrew Christianson
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Veterans

Matthew Hittle
Legislative Assistant

Women

Renee Munasifi
Senior Policy Advisor (On Maternity Leave)

Election Results

2014 GENERAL
Kristi Noem
Votes: 183,796
Percent: 66.54%
Corinna Robinson
Votes: 92,438
Percent: 33.46%
2012 GENERAL
Kristi Noem
Votes: 207,640
Percent: 57.45%
Matt Varilek
Votes: 153,789
Percent: 42.55%
2012 PRIMARY
Kristi Noem
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Kristi Noem
Votes: 153,703
Percent: 48.12%
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Votes: 146,589
Percent: 45.89%
B. Thomas Marking
Votes: 19,134
Percent: 5.99%
2010 PRIMARY
Kristi Noem
Votes: 34,527
Percent: 42.09%
Chris Nelson
Votes: 28,380
Percent: 34.59%
Blake Curd
Votes: 19,134
Percent: 23.32%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (48%)

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