Larry Rhoden is Noem’s running mate

Larry Rhoden

Kristi Noem announced today her selection of Larry R. Rhoden as her running mate. She will ask the the State Republican Convention to officially nominate Rhoden for lieutenant governor this weekend. The Noem/Rhoden ticket will face off against the Democratic ticket of Billie Sutton and Michelle Lavallee.

Rhoden has long been rumored to be a favorite to be Noem’s running mate.  He is rancher from Union Center, in Meade County, and has served sixteen years in the State Legislature: in the House 2001-08, then in the Senate 2009-14, and now back in the House 2017-18. Rhoden was assistant house majority leader 2003-04, house majority leader 2005-08, senate majority whip 2013-15, and house majority whip 2017-18. He chaired the powerful State Affairs Committee in the House from 2005-08 and 2017-18, and in the Senate 2011-14. Rhoden is also a veteran of the South Dakota National Guard.

In 2014, Rhoden ran for U.S. Senate, finishing second in the five-candidate Republican primary to former governor Mike Rounds.

Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor have run on a joint ticket in South Dakota since 1974.  The Noem/Rhoden ticket will be the first ticket since that time that features two candidates who are both primarily farmers or ranchers.  The ticket is reminiscent of George S. Mickelson, who was from northeastern South Dakota, and Walter Dale Miller, who was a Meade County rancher and longtime legislative leader, like Rhoden. Bill Janklow and Carole Hillard made up another successful East River/West River Republican ticket.

Rhoden would be the state’s 39th lieutenant governor, and the 2nd from Meade County, following Walter Dale Miller. He would be the 12th LG from West River, following Clark Forney (Oelrichs, 1925-27), H. E. Covey (Tripp County, 1927-29), Clarence E. Coyne (Fort Pierre, 1929), O. K. Whitney (Philip, 1931-33), A. C. Miller (Kennebec, 1941-45), Rex Terry (Fort Pierre, 1949-55), Joe Bottum (Rapid City 1961-62), Lem Overpeck (1965-69), Jim Abdnor (Kennebec, 1961-71), Walter Dale Miller (Meade County, 1987-93), and Carole Hillard (Rapid City, 1995-2003).

(It remains to be seen if Rhoden would follow Matt Michels’ example and wear a mustache.)

Rhoden’s selection is consistent with this blog’s predictions, based on historical patterns, although that analysis left Noem’s selection fairly wide-open. This blog predicted that Noem was:

  • Unlikely to select her primary opponent, Marty Jackley.
    • She didn’t.
  • Likely to select someone from Minnehaha or Lincoln county, or from West River.
    • Rhoden is from West River.
  • Needn’t select a running mate with legislative experience, but easily could.
    • Rhoden is a veteran legislative leader.
  • Professional background is not a primary consideration, given Noem’s background in ag and small business.
    • Noem doubled-down on agriculture with the selection of Rhoden, a rancher.
  • Age is not a factor.
    • Rhoden is 59, very much within the normal age range.
  • Unlikely to select female running mate.
    • She didn’t.
  • An otherwise “unconventional” choice is possible but not to be expected.
    • As a white, male, veteran legislator, Rhoden is a very conventional choice, relative to history.

Here are the GOP tickets for Governor and LG, since the offices began to run as a ticket in 1974:

1974 John E. Olson – Sioux Falls – A businessman who had served as state highway director in the Boe administration. Eddie Clay – Hot Springs – Assistant house majority leader and businessman.
1978, 1982 Bill Janklow – Flandreau – Attorney general. (Incumbent ticket renominated in 1982). Lowell Hansen – Sioux Falls – Speaker of the house and a businessman.
1986, 1990 George S. Mickelson – Brookings – Former speaker of the house and attorney. (Incumbent ticket renominated in 1990). Walter Dale Miller – New Underwood – House majority leader and former speaker, and a rancher.
1994, 1998 Bill Janklow – Brandon – Former governor. (Incumbent ticket renominated in 1998). Carole Hillard – Rapid City – State representative and volunteer; her family owned Rapid Chevrolet. First woman elected lieutenant governor.
2002, 2006 Mike Rounds – Pierre – Former senate majority leader and businessman. (Incumbent ticket renominated in 2006). Dennis Daugaard – Dell Rapids – State senator and non-profit executive.
2010, 2014 Dennis Daugaard – Dell Rapids – Lieutenant governor and non-profit executive. (Incumbent ticket renominated in 2014). Matt Michels – Yankton – Former house speaker and attorney.
2018 Kristi Noem – Castlewood – Congresswoman, farmer/rancher and small businesswoman. Larry Rhoden – Union Center – State representative and former house majority leader, and a rancher.