The Billie Sutton for Governor campaign responded to the announcement of Larry Rhoden as GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Kristi Noem’s running mate today. Or at least, they responded weakly:
It’s no surprise that a member of the Washington DC political establishment selected a state government insider as a running mate. All South Dakota will get from the Congresswoman’s ticket is more of the same: more of the same Pierre insiders, more of the same Washington-style politics, and more of the same old business-as-usual. Billie Sutton is the only candidate for Governor who will clean up state government, buck the status quo in the state capitol and restore trust in government by listening to the people.
What intern boilerplated that one? Washington this, and political insider that... I had given the Sutton campaign more credit for authenticity, but apparently they’re out to prove people who assume that as wrong.
The unsettling conclusion for the Sutton campaign is that they are finding themselves up against a ticket that “out-Billies Billie,” with both members of the GOP ticket coming from the community of the state’s farmers & ranchers.
While Sutton decided to try to make a predictable grab for cash with his Republican Lt. Governor’s Sioux Falls money connections, by picking Rhoden, Kristi Noem managed to outflank Sutton on his agricultural base, giving voters the first ticket since the Gov/Lt started running as a team that features two candidates who are both primarily farmers or ranchers. (H/T TVH).
With his choice of Michelle Lavalle as evidence of the fact, Sutton needed to reach out to Republican voters to try to expand from Democrats’ weak numbers to overcome the GOP’s strong advantage. What they didn’t count on was Noem making a more unconventional choice, and having Noem, a farmer, pair with Rhoden, a rancher, which automatically takes a deep dig into Sutton’s main base of support.
Kristi Noem’s conservative Republican base isn’t going to defect from her because the GOP base is primarily based on values. Sutton has always tried to identify himself as more Ag than “Democrat liberal ideological icon.” When you compare the two, I don’t think that Sutton’s Ag base has the Noem base’s stick-to-itiveness, simply because we’re a Republican majority state, the Ag community is fairly conservative to start, and they’re happy to vote GOP as long as they don’t have a reason to stay away.
In politics, the rule in counting votes is to make sure you hold your base. That just became a lot more tenuous for the Sutton camp, because the Noem/Rhoden camp might look a lot more attractive to his Ag voters about now.