Two potential rivals for the South Dakota Senate spoke back-to-back Friday night at the Minnehaha County Republican dinner, but stayed away from primary politics.
Former Gov. Mike Rounds, a Senate candidate, focused his brief speech on attacking federal disfunction.
“Year in and year out, from statehood, we balance our budget,” Rounds said. “How about the Feds? Sorry, the Senate doesn’t even pass a budget the last four years… Wouldn’t a little bit of South Dakota common sense go a long way in our nation’s capital?”
Meanwhile U.S. Rep Kristi Noem, who has refused to rule also running for the Senate, didn’t mention that race at all in her remarks. She also concentrated on criticizing national Democrats and discussing congressional battles.
“The House passed two bills to replace that sequester,” Noem said, referring to the automatic spending cuts that went into effect a month and a half ago. “While the president stands on TV and talks about the devastation of the sequester… what we need to understand is, the president never once put a proposal on the table to avoid that sequester.”
The two spoke back-to-back at the Minnehaha County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner, held at the Sioux Falls Convention Center.
Also speaking were Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican Party chairman Craig Lawrence, and Republican National Committee co-chair Sharon Day.
Thune, who has said he plans to stay neutral in any possible GOP Senate primary here, had kind words for Rounds but stopped short of endorsing him.
“I’ve known Mike and worked with Mike for over 20 years. He would be a great addition to the United States Senate,” Thune said, before praising Noem in the next breath as a “strong voice” who “votes the right way, and you don’t have to worry about what she’s going to do.”
Lawrence, in the evening’s longest speech, closed by urging Republicans to not waste energy on infighting.
“We must stop shooting at each other,” Lawrence said. “We are often divided by ourselves, giving one another conservative litmus tests.”