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Noem Can’t Tell Truth on Debate Dodge; Fiegen and Nelson Fine with Farmers Union

Last updated on 2014.08.02

Asked why she's skipping the traditional State Fair debate, hosted this year by the South Dakota Farmers Union, Rep. Kristi Noem answers with a typical run-on sentence:

We're still considering debates and looking at them but we're going to make sure we do debates in front of fair and non-partisan groups and so that's what we're looking for is we want to have fair, open and honest debates [Rep. Kristi Noem, quoted by Ben Dunsmoor, "Noem Will Not Debate Varilek at SD State Fair,", August 16, 2012].

David Montgomery asks Team Noem the logical question: Do you think the South Dakota Farmers Union is unfair and partisan? Noem spokesman Tom Erickson oozes that he will "leave that to your readers to decide."*

Team Noem doesn't even have the courage to be honest about the accusation it is making to cover its debate-chickenry. Montgomery has to turn to Professor Jon Schaff to run interference for Noem. He says Farmers Union is seen as "more of a liberal farm group" and that the three debates Noem has agreed to is "quite a lot." Dr. Schaff says incumbents normally try to minimize the number of debates to keep their challengers from getting a leg up.

Strangely, another Republican Kristie on the ballot, Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen, isn't afraid of the South Dakota Farmers Union. Neither is Republican Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson. Both are incumbents. Both face hard blowback from the ag sector for the PUC's failure to protect farmers from the collapse of state-assisted Anderson Seeds. Yet both reject Schaff's thesis and Noem's fear and are accepting the Farmers Union's invitation to debate Democrats Nick Nemec and Matt McGovern and Libertarian Russell Clarke:

Both Republican PUC candidates said the Farmers Union debate appealed to them despite the group's progressive reputation.

"I think it's a great opportunity to meet real South Dakotans from across the state," said Fiegen, who said she had no hesitation about accepting the invitation.

Nelson said he wasn't concerned about the fairness of the debate.

"I talked with their representative to understand what the format was. I'm very convinced it's going to be an open and fair format," Nelson said. "Again, it's a good opportunity for us to talk about the issues. I think any candidate ought to be willing to do that" [David Montgomery, "Kristi Noem Rejects House Debate at State Fair," that Sioux Falls paper, August 17, 2012].

Any candidate ought to be willing to do that... someone get that on tape and loop that statement on the next TV ad. And break out the chicken suits....

Bonus Noem Babble: Our Congresswoman provides another example of her infacility with the English language and the utter meaninglessness of the phrase "going forward":

Our campaign will look at opportunities that we get asked to participate in, and we will make decisions going forward about which ones we want to do [Noem, quoted by Montgomery, August 17, 2012].

Say the above sentence without the words "going forward." Do you see how those words add no meaning to the sentence?

*Update Saturday, August 18, 2012, 21:46 MDT: Team Noem finally makes their diss of the South Dakota Farmers Union explicit: Noem spokesman Tom Erickson tells the Mitchell Daily Republic's Tom Lawrence that Rep. Noem does not view the Farmers Union as a "fair, non-partisan" organization.


  1. Jana 2012.08.17

    Checked in with a couple of uncles and cousins who have fairly large operations...not corporate...registered and loyal Republicans...and members of SD Farmers Union.

    They laughed at Kristi's lack of courage...knowing what radical extremists most farmers are...

    They laughed extra hard that being a member of SDFU made them liberal.

    So Kristi...if you don't have the courage to stand up to people who disagree with can we trust you to stand up for us in Washington D.C.? So what are Boehner and Ryan telling you to say about the Farm Bill? Does it hurt when they pull your strings?

    Has the SD Farmer's Union polled their members on how they feel about Kristi thinking that they weren't important enough to talk to....

  2. Jana 2012.08.17

    Kristi...these farm families would have loved to have paid money to hear you at the SF Chamber meeting...but A) it was $50 and B) you seem to be worried more about SF donors than farm families.

  3. Jana 2012.08.17

    Oh yeah,,,that and they were working their farms and dealing with the uncertainty of what will happen with their crop insurance, since they can't rely on their Representative any longer.

    Thanks for standing up for South Dakota you have a hair appointment on Saturday? I know that those can be hard to reschedule...

  4. Stace Nelson 2012.08.17

    I think this was a huge campaign mistake.

  5. Dave 2012.08.17

    If Fox News sent a camera crew to Huron, Kristi would be there in a heartbeat.

  6. Dougal 2012.08.17

    I remember reading the harrassment Stephanie received at the hands of War College and the other uberRight blogs and GOP spokesmen that she is hiding from their town hall Tea Party-inspired events. Gee, amazing how outlooks shift when the shoe is on the other foot.

    Stephanie had the spine to face Kristi when the odds were seen as much tougher than they are for Kristi today. Having seen numerous Farmers Union State Fair events, this one is a cake walk. The crowd is usually small and the moderator is always polite and considerate. Farm Fest is always more spirited and stacked for the Republicans, yet you don't see Matt cutting and running a la Noem.

    I agree with Stace, my man for Governor 2014. Big mistake. It reveals a candidate/campaign that is out of control.

    Yes, one could make the case that a campaign that is ahead should not yield opportunities to the underdog. Frankly, I don't think everyday South Dakotans view Kristi's decision as a smart tactic. They see it as a snub and a cop out.

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