She is a close ally of President Trump, who held a rally in South Dakota at Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day last month.
After that visit, the New York Times published an article that fueled rumors Noem was angling for Vice President Mike Pence’s job. Her office denied the story to a local news outlet, Dakota News Now, calling it a “bizarre attempt to generate palace intrigue.” Neom also went to Washington, D.C., to meet with Pence amid the speculation in July.
Her profile has increased nationally throughout the coronavirus pandemic. She notes on her website that she “never ordered a single business or church to close and never issued a statewide shelter-in-place order.”
Noem was also the first governor to turn down the $300-a-week unemployment benefit that Trump offered states with an executive action earlier this month.
“My administration is very grateful for the additional flexibility that this effort would have provided, but South Dakota is in the fortunate position of not needing to accept it,” she said in a statement. “South Dakota’s economy, having never been shut down, has recovered nearly 80% of our job losses. South Dakota is the only state in the nation that didn’t have extended benefits kick in because our insured unemployment rate has been the lowest in the nation.”
Gov. Kristi Noem smiles after signing her first bill into law at the state Capitol in Pierre, S.D., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. The measure allows people to carry concealed pistols without a permit in South Dakota. (AP Photo/James Nord)
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Noem’s political career spans a decade and a half, according to her government website. She made history by becoming the first female ever elected as South Dakota’s governor in 2018. She served as South Dakota’s only member of the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2019 and served in the State Legislature for several years before that.
She has been married to her husband, Bryon, since 1992, and they have three children together.
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