Gov. Kristi Noem agrees to only one debate with Jamie Smith ahead of November 2022 election

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Governor Kristi Noem speaks at an election night watch party on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls.
Governor Kristi Noem speaks at an election night watch party on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls.

Gov. Kristi Noem's campaign announced Wednesday that it had accepted a debate invitation for the upcoming election against Rep. Jamie Smith this November.

And that's that.

The announcement said the governor would participate in just one debate, which is being sponsored by Dakota News Now and KOTA/KEVN. The debate will take place Sept. 30 in Rapid City.

It's not unusual for front runners to limit their debate appearances, and Noem, a Republican, is running in a heavily Republican state. But one debate would be unusual.

For example, former Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who went on to win re-election in 2014 by the widest margin in state history for a governor, offered his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Susan Wismer, four debates.

In 2006, then Gov. Mike Rounds had multiple debates with challenger Jack Billion, starting in August at DakotaFest in Mitchell. Other debates took place at the State Fair and a televised debate sponsored by AARP and the South Dakota Newspaper Association.

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The governor sent a letter to Smith's campaign accepting the debate and urging Smith to do the same.

“Voters deserve the opportunity to hear from the two of us on a wide variety of issues, especially those on which we do not see eye-to-eye," the letter said. "I look forward to a spirited, fact-driven conversation, and I trust that you hope for the same.”

Smith, a Sioux Falls Democrat who is House minority leader, agreed that voters deserved an opportunity to hear from the candidates, and not just in one debate.

While he welcomed the opportunity to participate in the Dakota News Now debate, he said, "I think South Dakotans deserve more than one debate."

"You wouldn't think that talking about our visions for South Dakota would be a scary topic for an incumbent governor," he added.

The general election is Nov. 8.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota Gov. Noem says she will do just one election debate