Let's encapsulate what will happen in the Paula Hawks challenge to Kristi Noem. First, Republicans will repeatedly cast Hawks as a tax and spend liberal; they will then go on to accuse her of being a socialist or a terrorist sympathizer who will weaken the nation and force school children to begin each school day by reciting entire suras from the Quran. Perhaps they will attempt to be creative and combine the accusations.
Later, the Noem campaign will find a news article or a Hawks social media post and use it to create a YouTube video to belittle Hawks. Hawks will respond by citing Noem's voting record; Republicans and South Dakota's incumbent-friendly mainstream media will accuse Hawks of negative campaigning.
Throughout the campaign, Noem will decry government waste but tout her work on the farm bill and the highway bill that should be finished later this year, and the conservatives who profess to hate pork barrel politics will applaud Noem's work on these bacony pieces of legislation because they provide South Dakota with a heaping helping of Washington's largesse.
Hawks has not begun well. The rollout has been underwhelming. Cory Heidelberger's mostly positive review admits the announcement video lacked thunder. Ken Santema finds it "lackluster." Pat Powers, as his wont for every non-Republican campaign, echoes those who call it "substandard." Whatever mistakes Hawks has made, her worst mistake is not having a professional war room ready to respond to the attacks and poor reviews, especially those from mainstream media outlets.
Another mistake she may be tempted to make is trying to copy Noem's efforts to tie Stephanie Herseth Sandlin to Nancy Pelosi by attempting to tie Noem to Speaker John Boehner. I find orange skinned men who weep too easily disconcerting at best. Most South Dakota Republicans are not disconcerted in the least. Perhaps Boehner's orange hue makes them nostalgic for the television program Alf. Pelosi, on the other hand, is a San Francisco Democrat. For most South Dakotans, that description is a pejorative only slightly less offensive than a short guttural verb that been appended with both prefix and suffix to imply that one has experienced carnal knowledge with one's female parent.
South Dakota needs competitive statewide races. I hope Hawks will successfully challenge Noem, but Hawks needs to be ready for fifteen months of rough and tumble campaigning.