Kristi Noem posts historic win in South Dakota governor’s race

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN/KOTA TV) - No matter who won, history was going to be made Tuesday in South Dakota’s governor’s race – either the state’s first female head of state or the first Democrat in four decades.

History goes with gender as Fox News calls the race for Republican Kristi Noem over Democrat Billie Sutton. For a while, the lead switched several times but as the night wore on, Noem began to pull away from Sutton.

With 638 of 698 precincts reporting final numbers and another 38 partial, Noem has 52 percent of the vote, with Sutton owning 47 percent and Libertarian Kurt Evans trailing well behind with only 1 percent.

Many polls put candidates in a dead heat, making it difficult for political experts to forecast a winner. Both Politico and Cook’s Report said the race was a tossup.

Noem, the state’s lone U.S. House representative, has been in Congress since 2011. Previously, she was a state House representative from 2007 to 20011.

Democrat Billie Sutton is a former professional bronc rider. He was elected to the state Senate in 2010 and was the Senate minority leader.