Rep. Kristi Noem's electoral stock may be ticking up, just slightly.

Joshua Shields is stepping down as Noem's spokesman to go work for Black Hills Corporation. He was never very good at the job (see also here)... but then again, Noem doesn't give great material to work with.

His temporary replacement, Noem staffer Jordan Stoick, makes this clever observation:

Stoick said Noem wants tea party support but resists efforts to label her a tea party candidate, although the South Dakota Democrats are working hard to do just that.

He said it may be an advantage for Strong to run to the right of Noem. Stoick said that helps place her closer to the middle of the Republican spectrum [Tom Lawrence, "The Smart Young Guys Behind the Political Scenes," Republic Insider, 2012.02.22].

Dang: maybe I shouldn't be so excited about the purported primary challenges Noem faces. Stephanie Strong, with her all-caps shouting of vague Tea Party tropes (oh, but she does want to repeal the Patriot Act!) and links to Wall Builders and Rick Green will only make Noem look more like the centrist she needs to be to win Indies in November. (Stephanie, don't link to outside profiteers on your campaign website. Write up your own content!)