Republicans are now on track to avoid a costly, high-profile primary in the South Dakota Senate race next year.
Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., announced Tuesday she will seek re-election rather than take on former Gov. Mike Rounds in the primary for the open seat. Her move clears a major hurdle in the GOP’s path to picking up the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.
“I am grateful to everyone who has encouraged me and pledged support for a potential campaign for the U.S. Senate,” Noem said in a statement. “However, after spending the weekend discussing our future with Bryon and our children, we decided that right now we are in the best position to serve South Dakota as a member of the U.S. House.”
(See also in Roll Call: Search For Anti-Rounds Candidate Continues In South Dakota)
Noem called Rounds on Tuesday morning to inform him of her decision, according to Rounds campaign manager Rob Skjonsberg. The Rounds team has pledged to support Noem’s re-election bid.
“It’s time to come together and support a united team for South Dakota,” Skjonsberg said.
Rounds could still face a challenge. Conservatives have been looking for a candidate for months, but Noem had by the far the highest name recognition of anyone mentioned.
For now, the only Democrat in the race is former House candidate Rick Weiland. Former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson both passed on the race.
(See also in Roll Call: Weiland is Democrats’ Best Hope In South Dakota)
The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as Lean Republican.