South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem emerged from Tuesday’s gubernatorial election triumphant, energized and with her sights set on President Joe Biden, declaring her intention to build on the achievements of her first term and asserting that South Dakota is the model of successful Republican governance.

Noem comfortably sailed to re-election Tuesday, defeating Democratic state House Minority Leader Jamie Smith. Addressing supporters gathered at the Downtown Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls, the governor’s victory speech drew a stark contrast between her record in South Dakota and “Joe Biden’s America.” She extolled the virtues of limited government, freedom and opportunity while savaging the “extremist agenda” of Democrats in Washington, D.C., calling Biden a “figurehead” controlled by the radical left.

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“Americans across the country are looking to South Dakota as a ‘Shining City on the Hill.’ In states across the country tonight, they’re electing Republican governors because they want their state to look more like South Dakota,” Noem said.

A rising star in the Republican Party, the 50-year-old Noem earned national appeal within the GOP by opposing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions that would have closed businesses and schools. On the campaign trail, she’s attributed South Dakota’s thriving economy to her decision-making, observing that her state has the fastest-growing incomes of any state in the nation and is experiencing rampant population growth.

Noem has also gone to battle for conservatives in the culture wars, signing legislation that bans biological males from participating in girls’ or women’s school sports, and issuing an executive order that banned teaching critical race theory in K-12 schools.

Her speech called attention to these accomplishments and promised more to come in her second term, including a push for what Noem said will be “the largest tax cut in state history” by eliminating the state sales tax on all grocery purchases. The governor also promised to expand paid family leave for private citizens, eliminate regulations on child care, strengthen the state’s food supply chain and defend “integrity in our elections.”

In contrast to this vision, Noem said Democrats nationally “are following an extremist agenda set by people who do not love our nation and do not share our values.” 

“Freedom and opportunity mean nothing to them. They care about control. And they use fear to get it,” the governor said.

EXCLUSIVE: GOP GOV. KRISTI NOEM ANNOUNCES ‘LARGEST TAX CUT IN SOUTH DAKOTA HISTORY’

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Feb. 25, 2022, in Orlando, Florida.
(AP Photo/John Raoux)

Noem questioned whether Biden, in his advanced age, is fully in command of his administration or is being controlled by those around him.

“The man in the White House today is not the Joe Biden that we thought we knew five, 10 years ago. I may not have agreed with that Joe Biden politically, but I didn’t doubt whether his mind was his own,” Noem said.

President Joe Biden speaks during a rally for gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore and the Democratic Party at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, on Nov. 7, 2022.

President Joe Biden speaks during a rally for gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore and the Democratic Party at Bowie State University in Bowie, Maryland, on Nov. 7, 2022.
(Mandel Ngan/Getty Images)

However, Noem made it clear that she believes Biden owns the disastrous consequences of his administration’s policies.

“Make no mistake, the nation that is unfolding around us is Joe Biden’s America — and it’s not the nation I want to leave to my kids and grandkids,” Noem said, blaming the president for rising gas and food prices, failing to stop violent crime, the border crisis, and foreign aggression from Russia and China.

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“Under Joe Biden’s so-called leadership, families are poorer than they’ve been in decades. In his America, our streets are not safe for our kids to play on. In his America, we are closer to nuclear war than we have been in generations,” Noem said, issuing a blistering condemnation of the president’s record that doubtlessly will fuel speculation as to her own presidential ambitions. 

Indeed, as Noem celebrated Republican victories nationwide, she urged those in her party to “look to South Dakota as the example of the America that we can all build together,” staking her claim to national leadership in the GOP.

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“In the last four years, we built the strongest state in the nation. And we did it together,” Noem said. “In the next four years, I promise you the best is yet to come. And the hard work starts tomorrow.”

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