SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota—Many politicians turn to social media platforms or television ads to get their message out. But Gov. Kristi Noem and U.S. Congressman Dusty Johnson said they wanted to “take the pulse of the people” themselves, opting to travel door-to-door through a Sioux City subdivision to shake hands with their constituents on June 4 and listening to their concerns.
Noem and Johnson, both Republicans, also wanted to thwart negative ads that have recently begun airing throughout the state of South Dakota.
“The air war is not what wins elections in South Dakota—it’s the ground game,” Johnson told The Epoch Times during his door-to-door tour of the neighborhood. “It is going out and talking to voters and answering questions—this is how victory gets done.”
The top issue for the people of South Dakota is inflation, Noem told The Epoch Times as she walked with Johnson through the neighborhood. She said people are worried about the price of fuel and food—kitchen table issues.
“We are hearing a lot of concern about inflation,” Noem said, while walking the sidewalks of a Sioux Falls neighborhood. “People feel it every single day.”
Noem and Johnson agreed that inflation is “higher than it should be” and blamed the current administration as “trillions of dollars have been spent unnecessarily.”
“We’ve got an administration that has put trillion-dollar package after trillion-dollar package,” Johnson said of national inflation. “I voted against them (spending packages), and we need to focus on needs and not wants at the federal level—that’s what I have been focused on.”
Sioux Falls resident Sondra McFadden said she “couldn’t believe her eyes” when she answered the front door of her home and saw the governor and a congressman.
“She’s really here,” she said of the visit. “I just love her (Noem) because she stands up for what she believes, and she looks out for all of South Dakota.”
McFadden said that South Dakota is a conservative area, and that the governor is doing a “fantastic job” in protecting the conservative values that South Dakotans have maintained for many years. She said she is “worried about the state of the nation” but is thankful to live in the state and is “thankful for her governor.”
McFadden gives the governor credit for “keeping the state open” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She kept the state open, which helped the economy during the pandemic,” she said. “I look at other states who locked down and they are so much worse off for it—we are thriving because of the decisions the governor has made for our state.”
Noem said there is a reason why people are “grateful to live in South Dakota.”
“Our state has the number one economy,” she said. “Everybody works—our incomes are rising faster than in any other state—so we’ve got a great story to tell and it’s a story of helping people make the best decisions for themselves and South Dakota is thriving because of that.”
“The thing I love about South Dakotans is their optimism, and they’ll listen and ask you the tough questions,” he said of his constituents. “But they know how lucky they are to be living in South Dakota. Because of Kristi’s administration, people realize that their freedoms were not reduced here … We did it right here.”
Neither the governor nor the congressman are fans of the policies of the Biden administration and the president’s latest move to punish states, like South Dakota, with less funding after it passed legislation outlawing transgender males competing in girls’ sports.
“It’s a horrific thing to take food off the plates of our children in order to push your agenda,” Noem said. “It’s a dangerous threat—a terrible threat. If he moves forward with this policy, then I will sue them in federal court. And we will win.”
Johnson echoed Noem’s sentiments.
“Biden is trying to use free and reduced school lunches as a lever to compel states to do what you want around transgendered athletes,” he said. “Biden wants to try to punish those kids because South Dakota and other states don’t fall in line with his views. I haven’t found one person in South Dakota who’s buying what he’s selling.”
On June 7, South Dakotans will go to the polls to vote in the primary election for who they would like to see on the ballot this November. Both incumbents say they are excited to serve their constituents for another term.
“Kristi and I are wired very similarly,” he said of the Republican governor. “One of the reasons we get along so well is that she is a conservative who’s focused on actually solving problems.”
Noem said Johnson is a great “advocate” for South Dakota.
“He works hard, and he cares about people,” she said of Johnson. “He’s doing it for the right reasons.”