The most powerful Republican in the country was in Sioux Falls Thursday.
Speaker of the House John Boehner attended a fundraiser for Representative Kristi Noem Thursday morning at Minnehaha Country Club, but only Republicans willing to pay hundreds of dollars got to see the speaker.
Thursday morning’s breakfast was only an hour and a half long but it cost up to $500 per person with all the money going toward Representative Kristi Noem’s re-election campaign. The event was closed to the public. KELOLAND News even made two separate interview requests with Speaker Boehner and Representative Noem and was told they didn’t have time and that it was a private event.
One by one supporters of Representative Noem could be seen driving into the Minnehaha Country Club to eat breakfast and shake hands with Speaker of the House John Boehner on Thursday.
Across the street from the country club South Dakota Democrats held their own free breakfast that was open to the public.
“When Kristi Noem ran for Congress she said this was the people’s house. Well, when the leader of the people’s house comes to town you shouldn’t have to pay Kristi $1,000 to just shake his hand,” South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf said.
More than 50 Democrats gathered to eat pancakes and talk politics as Republicans drove by to see Speaker Boehner. Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth was one of them. Next week he plans to officially announce his plans to run against Representative Noem.
“As a boots on the ground county commissioner I’m quite a contrast to a basically Tea Party fanatic,” Barth said.
Democrats say the fact that Representative Kristi Noem brought in Speaker John Boehner for a fundraiser in Sioux Falls shows that her seat is vulnerable in the upcoming election.
“I think it clearly says the national Republicans understand that Kristi Noem is in trouble. The speaker doesn’t waste his time on races that are not going to be competitive,” Nesselhuf said.
“I’m hopeful I’ll be able to raise some money myself at some point although it doesn’t look like I’ll be raising it at $500 for breakfast,” Barth said.
But it does look like the race for South Dakota’s lone U.S. House seat is already heating up.