Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden’s increased profile latest signs of potential future statewide office bid

South Dakota Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden has had an increased profile on both the campaign trail, and in the Governor’s office in recent weeks.
The political future for Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden look bright if he was to run independently
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 8:20 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - For the second time in five years, Larry Rhoden will appear alongside Governor Kristi Noem on the ballot.

But it likely won’t be his last time running for statewide office.

Rhoden has been a steadfast ally of the Governor’s, and serves as a strong political balance on the ticket, in more ways than one.

“With increasing criticism of the governor due to the travel out of state and her having national aspirations, having a west river rancher with deep roots in South Dakota is a good balance,” said Michael Card, retired University of South Dakota Political Science Professor. “The governor certainly has some of those qualities as well, it is just her current activity being out of state a lot, probably also makes Rhoden the kind of running mate that she needs right now.”

Behind the scenes, Rhoden is seen as the natural successor to Noem, when her time as governor does come to an end.

That speculation has only increased with Rhoden’s role on the campaign becoming more public in recent weeks.

Rhoden was featured in his own commercial, he has been featured on several press releases from the Governor’s Office, launched his own campaign Facebook page, and has been making many more public appearances on the campaign trail.

Should Rhoden, currently age 63, run for governor or another statewide office in 2026, it would likely earn him a coveted endorsement from Noem herself.

Noem didn’t rule out the possibility when asked.

“When I chose Larry as my Lieutenant Governor, I wanted his institutional knowledge and experience,” Noem said in a statement. “I knew he would help guide conservative principles through the legislature, advocate for agriculture, and give honest advice when necessary. He’s a proven leader and a great asset to our campaign. I’m grateful for his counsel, friendship, and support.”

“Noem is either first or second in terms of the most popular elected officials in South Dakota,” Card said. “I would suspect that her recommendation and endorsement in that capacity would be quite powerful in South Dakota. “Of course, like all politicians in this world of polarization, that also means that she has a group of people that would never vote for anyone she would recommend, just because of that.”

Both Noem and Rhoden’s immediate political futures will be decided during the general election this November, when they face off against Democratic gubernatorial challenger Jamie Smith and his running mate Jennifer Keintz.