Who is Kristi Noem, the farmer who became governor of South Dakota and is sounding like Trump's running mate?

The Republican rose to national fame during the pandemic and is one of the most popular executives in the country.

Donald Trump has all the numbers to become the next Republican nominee for president. The Republican has easily defeated his rivals in every state so far and polls show him sweeping Super Tuesday. Therefore, a little earlier than in previous years, the former president has already started looking for a running mate. Within his range of options, as he revealed in an interview with Laura Ingraham, Kristi Noem is on his shortlist.

The governor of South Dakota showed her interest in the position and many analysts see her as a logical choice due to the balance she would bring to the ticket in terms of gender, age and state of origin. At the same time, a life story of hard work and difficult situations is a big positive when it comes to empathizing with voters.

Noem went from a virtually unknown governor to a rising star in the Republican Party during the pandemic, when she took a hands-off approach. By December 2020, she was one of the few executives who had not decreed the use of masks or prohibited social gatherings. This management led her to give a speech at the Republican National Convention and raise her national profile since then, to the point that she could be Trump's choice for vice president.

The family farm and her father's saying that took her to Congress

Noem, of Norwegian descent, was born on November 30, 1971, in Watertown, South Dakota, where she grew up with her siblings, who regularly attended the local church and worked in the family's field.

After a childhood filled with grain carts and working with calves, she attended Northern State University, although she had to leave his studies due to a family tragedy. While pregnant with her first child, she learned that her father had died in a machine accident, forcing a young student to return home to take charge of the field.

As an interesting fact, she was crowned Snow Queen of South Dakota. She later recalled that the experience gave her experience with public speaking and addressing an audience.

Years later, she decided to enter politics, precisely remembering a phrase that her father told her when she was little: “Kristi, we don't complain about things, we fix them.”

7 years in Congress

In 2010, the then-state legislator launched an unlikely race to be the only congresswoman from her state in the House of Representatives, taking into account that in 2004 the Democratic incumbent had achieved re-election by more than 30 percentage points.

However, an intelligent campaign added to the momentum of the Tea Party and achieved what seemed impossible only months prior. Noem won on Election Day with 48.1% of the vote against her rival's 45.9%.

During her 7-year stay in the Upper House, she wrote 11 bills that became law and dedicated herself to pressuring the leadership to reduce regulations and lower federal government spending. In turn, she supported Paul Ryan's initiative to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

She also emerged as one of the members of Congress who came out strongly against tax increases, proposing to eliminate the estate tax, reduce the corporate tax rate and simplify the tax code.

During the Trump Administration, she was part of the commission that helped negotiate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which put $2,400 back into the pockets of the average South Dakota family.

First woman to govern South Dakota

Although a little early for some, Noem announced that she would seek the governorship of her state in November 2016, almost two years before the election. She successfully overcame a tough challenge in the primaries and managed to win the general election despite the 'Blue Wave' that hit the country during the 2018 midterm elections. She defeated Democrat Billie Sutton with 51% of the vote.

She was sworn in at the beginning of 2019, becoming the first woman to govern the Mount Rushmore State.

Her management has been characterized by facilitating access to weapons by citizens, defending the Second Amendment tooth and nail. "I am the NRA," she said, referring to the National Rifle Association.

Once the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, South Dakota became one of the first states to pass laws restricting abortion, a practice that is only permitted if the mother's life is at risk.

She signed legislation in 2022 that prevents transgender girls and women from competing on women's sports teams, and another bill that prohibits gender-affirming treatments. Noem opposes the legalization of cannabis and supported the creation of the now-paused Keystone pipeline.

In November 2022, she achieved re-election with 62% of the votes, flipping 17 counties that had voted for Democrats in 2018.

According to Morning Consult, by 2023 she was the sixth most popular governor in the country with a 63% positive image. She was only surpassed by Phil Scott, Mark Gordon, Josh Green, Chris Sununu and Andy Beshear, in that order.

Trump-Noem 2024?

The governor began to build her national profile taking advantage of the momentum of the pandemic, releasing her first autobiography in 2022: "Not My First Rodeo: Lessons from the Heartland." Since then she began to be seen as a possible candidate for the 2024 presidential elections, although she rejected the idea.

Despite having criticized the trade war with China in the past, she has a great relationship with the former president, being one of the first governors to support his third run for the White House.

Trump floated Noem's name as a possible running mate in mid-February and her name was one of the favorites among CPAC attendees.

She plans a second book release in May, "No Going Back: The Truth on What's Wrong with Politics and How We Move America Forward," which was mentioned by the former president himself.

"Governor Kristi Noem is a tremendous leader, one of the best. This book, it's a winner. It exposes the problems we're facing and lays out a fantastic plan to make America great again. You've got to read it!" Trump wrote.