Politics

South Dakota Republican Governor Has Blocked Months of Effort to Protect Girls’ Sports

It’s been a hard start to the year for the people of South Dakota, who have watched everything that their legislature worked for vanish with one wave of the governor’s hand. “It’s maddening. It’s frustrating,” one statehouse member said about watching Kristi Noem (R) destroy their months of progress on girls’ sports. Despite a week and a half of outcry from her constituents, Noem dug in and did not, as some people hoped, reconsider.

Reporters on both sides were taken aback by the governor’s decision, warning that her failure to “read the political room” could have consequences for years to come. Even the Washington Post couldn’t help but be surprised that Noem would turn her back on such a core constituency – especially on an issue that enjoys near-consensus support. She made herself a “national icon” for bucking the COVID norms, the Post’s Henry Olsen writes. But this “backtracking” on a bill that was an easy lift for a state like South Dakota may have just “torpedoed her standing” with the party’s core. “Noem’s meteoric national rise has spawned much doubt about whether she has the chops to navigate the difficult issues… How she recovers from this unnecessary self-inflicted wound will determine if the doubters are right.”

In Pierre, where the betrayal hits hardest, leaders like House Speaker Spencer Gosch (R) could only shake his head at how carefully the governor tried to spin her decision. “Her letter back to the House said, ‘I have not vetoed the bill,’ but her actions said otherwise.” Regardless of the smoke and mirrors, the legislature set to work, desperately trying to find the votes for a veto override. Read more…

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