Kristi Noem

Kristi Lynn Noem (/nm/; née Arnold, November 30, 1971) is an American politician serving as the 33rd and current governor of South Dakota since January 5, 2019. A member of the Republican Party, she was the U.S. Representative for South Dakota's at-large congressional district from 2011 to 2019 and a member of the South Dakota House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. Noem was elected governor in 2018 and is South Dakota's first female governor.[1]

Kristi Noem
Kristi L. Noem (cropped).jpg
Noem in 2020
33rd Governor of South Dakota
Assumed office
January 5, 2019
LieutenantLarry Rhoden
Preceded byDennis Daugaard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's at-large district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2019
Preceded byStephanie Herseth Sandlin
Succeeded byDusty Johnson
Member of the South Dakota House of Representatives
from the 6th district
In office
January 9, 2007 – January 11, 2011
Preceded byArt Fryslie
Succeeded byBurt Tulson
Personal details
Kristi Lynn Arnold

(1971-11-30) November 30, 1971 (age 48)
Watertown, South Dakota, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Bryon Noem
m. 1992)
ResidenceGovernor's Residence
EducationSouth Dakota State University (BA)

Early life and educationEdit

Kristi Arnold was born to Ron and Corinne Arnold in Watertown, South Dakota, and raised with her siblings on the family ranch and farm in rural Hamlin County.[2] She graduated from Hamlin High School in 1990, and won the South Dakota Snow Queen title. She credited the experience with helping her polish her public speaking and promotional skills.[3] After high school, she enrolled at Northern State University. She married Bryon Noem at age 20.[4]

At 22, Noem left college to help run her family's ranch after her father was killed in a farm machinery accident.[2][5] Noem added a hunting lodge and restaurant to the property, and all her siblings moved back to help expand the businesses.[2]

After her father's death, Noem stopped attending college full time but subsequently took classes at the Watertown campus of Mount Marty College and at South Dakota State University and online classes from the University of South Dakota.[2][3]

After being elected to Congress, Noem continued her education, taking online courses and receiving credits for her work as a representative, leading The Washington Post to facetiously dub her Capitol Hill's "most powerful intern" for the number of college credits she received for internships.[6] She earned a B.A. in political science from South Dakota State University in 2012.[7]

South Dakota House of RepresentativesEdit

In 2006, Noem won a seat in the South Dakota House of Representatives representing the 6th District (comprising parts of Beadle, Clark, Codington, Hamlin, and Kingsbury counties, but not including Watertown). In 2006, she won with 39% of the vote.[8] In 2008, she was reelected to a second term with a plurality of 41%.[9]

Noem served for four years, from 2007 to 2010; she was an Assistant Majority Leader during her last year.[10][11] In 2009 and 2010 she sponsored bills to lower the age of compulsory education in South Dakota to 16, after it had been raised to 18 in 2008, arguing that requiring school attendance until age 18 has not been proven to improve graduation rates.[12] Supporters of the higher age argue that it increases graduation rates and motivates students who would otherwise drop out.[13]

She was on the State Affairs Committee and Taxation Committee[14]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit



In 2010, Noem ran for South Dakota's at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.[15] She won the Republican primary with a plurality of 42% of the vote against South Dakota Secretary of State Chris Nelson and State Representative Blake Curd.[16] Her primary opponents endorsed her in the general election.[10]

Noem's opponent, incumbent Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, emphasized her own record of independence from the Democratic caucus, including her votes against health care reform, the Wall Street bailouts, and the cap-and-trade energy bill. In response, Noem repeatedly highlighted Herseth Sandlin's vote for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. According to The Washington Post, "Nationally, Herseth Sandlin [was] considered a rising star in her party, the Democrats' own "mama grizzly" straight out of the heartland [...] but, 2010 is a different time, and Herseth Sandlin, 39, faces her most serious threat yet. Noem, 38, is ... a made-for-Fox News star in her own right."[17] During the 2010 election cycle, Noem outraised Herseth Sandlin, $2.3 million to $2.1 million.[18][19] Noem received 84% of her cash from individual donors while Herseth Sandlin received 56% from political action committees.[18][19][20] Noem defeated Herseth Sandlin, 48% to 46%.[21]


Noem was reelected to a second term, defeating Democrat Matthew Varilek, 57%–43%.[22]


Noem was reelected to a third term, defeating Democrat Corinna Robinson, 67%–33%.[23]


Noem was reelected to a fourth term, defeating Democrat Paula Hawks, 64%–36%.[24]


Representative Noem in 2011

Noem was the fourth woman to represent South Dakota in the U.S. Congress.[25] She and freshman U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina were elected by acclamation of the 2011 House Republican 87-member freshman class to be liaisons to the House Republican leadership, making Noem the second woman member of House GOP leadership.[26] According to The Hill, her role was to push the leadership to make significant cuts to federal government spending and to help Speaker John Boehner manage the expectations of the freshman class.[27] In March 2011, Republican U.S. Representative Pete Sessions of Texas named Noem one of the 12 regional directors for the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2012 election campaign.[2][28]


In 2018, Noem was reported to have "pitched the idea to members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus" to attach her online sales tax bill to the government funding package as part of an omnibus. A court case under consideration in the South Dakota Supreme Court involved requiring "certain out-of-state retailers to collect its sales taxes." Noem said that South Dakota businesses (and by extension businesses nationwide) "could be forced to comply with 1,000 different tax structures nationwide without the tools necessary to do so", adding that her legislation "provides a necessary fix."[29]

Noem called the budget deficit one of the most important issues facing Congress, and cosponsored H. J. Res. 2, which would require that total spending for any fiscal year not exceed total receipts.[30][31] She cited the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Medicaid, high-speed rail projects, cap-and-trade technical assistance, and subsidies for the Washington Metro rapid transit system as examples of federal programs she would like to see cuts in.[32][30][33][34]

She indicated that she would vote to raise the federal spending limit,[26] and wanted to eliminate the estate tax,[35] lower the corporate tax rate, and simplify the tax code.[2] She also said she would not raise taxes to balance the budget.[36]

Human traffickingEdit

Noem promoted legislation to combat human trafficking and sexual slavery.[37][38]

Health careEdit

Noem opposes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and has voted to repeal it.[39][40] Having unsuccessfully sought to repeal the law, she has sought to defund it while retaining measures such as the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the provision allowing parents to keep their children on their health insurance plan into their 20s, and the high-risk pools.[41] New provisions that Noem wanted to add to federal law included limits on medical malpractice lawsuits and allowing patients to buy health insurance plans from other states.[41] She supported cuts to Medicaid funding proposed by Republican Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan that would reduce benefits for South Dakota Medicaid recipients by 55 percent.[32]

Social issuesEdit

Noem is pro-life.[42] She has the support of Susan B. Anthony List,[43] and said after her election that she hoped to maintain a 100% anti-abortion voting record.[35]

Energy and environmentEdit

U.S. Representative Noem (center) alongside fellow U.S. Representatives Donna Edwards and Sheila Jackson Lee at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in May 2013

Noem has said that the U.S. must end its dependence on foreign oil. To achieve that goal, Noem says Congress should encourage conservation of existing resources.[44] She supports continuing ethanol subsidies that benefit her state.[45] Noem opposes ending federal subsidies for oil companies.[32]

Noem supported the Keystone XL Pipeline and promised to continue to work for its construction after the U.S. Senate voted down legislation to advance the pipeline through Congress.[46] Noem helped the House pass the legislation on November 14, 2014.[46]

Noem opposed a bill introduced by South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson that would designate over 48,000 acres (190 km2) of the Buffalo Gap National Grassland as protected wilderness.[47] She supports the current designation of the land as a national grassland.[48] She pointed out that the land is already managed as roadless areas similar to wilderness[49] and argued that changing the land's designation to wilderness would further limit leaseholder access to the land and imperil grazing rights.[48][49]

Noem supports off-shore oil drilling.[50] She co-sponsored three bills that she argued would reduce American dependence on foreign oil by ending the 2010 United States deepwater drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico and reopening sales on oil leases in the Gulf and off the coast of Virginia.[51]

In 2011, Noem sponsored a measure to block Environmental Protection Agency funding for tighter air pollution standards for coarse particulates.[52]

Foreign affairsEdit

Noem supported the American military intervention in the 2011 Libyan civil war, but questioned whether America intervened to protect civilians, or whether the U.S. military would try to remove Libya's leader, Muammar Gaddafi.[53] In March 2011, Noem called on Obama to provide more information about America's role in the conflict, characterizing his statements as vague and ambiguous.[53][54]


Since her election, Noem raised 56 percent of donations from individuals and 44 percent from political action committees.[55] On March 8, 2011, she announced the formation of a leadership political action committee, KRISTI PAC.[56] Noem said she would use the PAC to pay expenses and support other Republican candidates. Former South Dakota Lieutenant Governor Steve Kirby is the treasurer of the PAC.[57][58][59]

Noem was among the top freshman Republicans in PAC fundraising in the first quarter of 2011, raising $169,000 from PACs and hosting at least 10 Washington fundraisers.[60] She said she had no plans to join the House Tea Party Caucus.[61]

Immigrants and refugeesEdit

Noem supported President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order that suspended the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and banned all travel to the U.S. by nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.[62] She said she supported a temporary ban on accepting refugees from "terrorist-held" areas,[63] but "did not address whether she supports other aspects of the order, which led to the detention of legal U.S. residents such as green-card holders and people with dual citizenship as they reentered the country" in the aftermath of the order's issuance.[62]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Governor of South DakotaEdit

2018 electionEdit

On November 14, 2016, Noem announced that she would not seek reelection to Congress but instead run for governor of South Dakota in 2018.[68] She defeated incumbent South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley in the June 5 primary, 56% to 44%,[69][70] and defeated Democratic nominee Billie Sutton in the general election, 51% to 47.6%.[71]


Noem was sworn in as governor of South Dakota on January 5, 2019. She is the first woman in South Dakota history to hold that office.[72]

Concealed carryEdit

On January 31, 2019, Noem signed a bill into law abolishing the permit requirement to carry a concealed handgun.[73][74][75] On March 20, 2019, she signed a bill into law requiring South Dakota's state universities to promote and protect intellectual diversity,[76] and on that same day, she signed several bills restricting abortion. Noem said the bills would "crack down on abortion providers in South Dakota" by requiring providers to use a state form women must sign before they can end a pregnancy. She also said, "A strong and growing body of medical research provides evidence that unborn babies can feel, think, and recognize sounds in the womb. These are people, they must be given the same basic dignities as anyone else."[77][78]


In February 2019, she said that the Trump administration's trade wars had devastated South Dakota.[79]

"Meth, We're On It" CampaignEdit

On November 18, 2019, Noem released a new meth awareness campaign named "Meth, We're On It". The campaign was widely mocked and Noem was criticized for using a Minnesota firm.[80]

Coronavirus pandemicEdit

As of April 14, 2020, Noem was one of seven governors who had not issued statewide stay-at-home orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic;[81] instead, she has emphasized her state's role in evaluating hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, as a treatment for COVID-19 and has been heavily promoted by President Trump.[82] South Dakota has one of the nation’s largest coronavirus hotspots,[83] with 800 workers and their family members testing positive for it at the Smithfield Foods production plant in Sioux Falls.[84][85] Noem pointed out that this production facility was in full operation as an essential food manufacturing facility.[86] On April 6, she issued an executive order that said people "shall" follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;[87] she also ordered everyone over age 65 in two counties to stay home for three weeks.[88][89]

Noem did not mandate social distancing or the wearing of face masks at a July 3 event at Mount Rushmore that featured President Trump. Health experts warned that large gatherings without social distancing or mask-wearing posed a risk to public health.[90]

Presidential electorEdit

On June 20, 2020, at the Republican State Convention, Noem was chosen to be one of South Dakota's three Republican presidential electors, along with Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.[91]


Governor's mansion fenceEdit

Noem proposed to build a fence around the governor's mansion for approximately $400,000. The proposal was not well-received and she eventually retracted it.[92][93]

Hiring family membersEdit

Noem hired her daughter, Kennedy, while still in college and then raised her annual salary from $40,000 to $60,000 in the first year. Noem's administration also hired her son-in-law Kyle Peters for about $60,000 per year.[94][95]

Electoral historyEdit

2018 South Dakota gubernatorial election[71]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kristi Noem 172,912 51.0%
Democratic Billie Sutton 161,454 47.6%
Libertarian Kurt Evans 4,848 1.4%
Total votes 339,214 100%
Republican hold
2018 Republican primary election – South Dakota governor[69]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kristi Noem 57,437 56.0
Republican Marty Jackley 45,069 44.0
Total votes 102,506 100
2016 South Dakota's At-large congressional district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kristi Noem (Incumbent) 237,163 64.10
Democratic Paula Hawks 132,810 35.90
Total votes 369,973 100
South Dakota's At-large congressional district election, 2014[23]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kristi Noem (Incumbent) 183,834 67
Democratic Corinna Robinson 92,485 33
Total votes 276,319 100
2012 South Dakota's At-large congressional district election[96]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kristi Noem (Incumbent) 207,640 57
Democratic Matt Varilek 153,789 43
Total votes 361,429 100
Republican hold
2010 General election – At Large Congressional District of South Dakota
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kristi Noem 153,703 48
Democratic Stephanie Herseth Sandlin 146,589 46
Independent B. Thomas Marking 19,134 6
Total votes 319,426 100
Republican gain from Democratic
2010 Republican primary election – At Large Congressional District of South Dakota[97]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Kristi Noem 34,527 42
Republican Chris Nelson 28,380 35
Republican Blake Curd 19,134 23
Total votes 82,041 100

Personal lifeEdit

Noem lives with her husband and their three children on the Racota Valley Ranch near Castlewood. As of 2009, she had a 16.9 percent ownership stake in the ranch which has received $4.12 million in subsidies from 1995 through 2019.[98] Her recreational interests include hunting.[99]

It was reported in August 2010 that Noem had 20 speeding tickets, three stop sign violations, two seat belt violations and a citation for driving with no driver's license. She had also been issued six court notices for failure to appear and two arrest warrants.[100]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Why Gov. Noem won't order a shelter-in-place for South Dakotans
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  3. ^ a b Jeff Bahr (February 3, 2011). "Snow Queen title meant opportunity for Noem". Aberdeen News. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  4. ^ Hayworth, Bret. "Kristi Noem a 'fit for the times' as she takes office". Sioux City Journal. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  5. ^ Woster, Kevin. Noem ad: poignant or political? Rapid City Journal. May 9, 2010.
  6. ^ Heil, Emily (January 19, 2012). "Kristy Noem: Capitol Hill's most powerful intern". The Washington Post. Washington DC: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  7. ^ Min Kim, Seung (May 7, 2012). "Rep. Kristi Noem earns her bachelor's degree". Politico.
  8. ^ "Our Campaigns – SD State House 06 Race – Nov 07, 2006".
  9. ^ "Our Campaigns – SD State House 06 Race – Nov 04, 2008".
  10. ^ a b Ellis, Jonathan. U.S. House: State Rep. Kristi Noem to face Herseth Sandlin in historic clash, Political newcomer beats odds, Argus Leader, June 9, 2010.
  11. ^ "Kristi Noem". South Dakota Legislature Historical Listing. Archived from the original on December 11, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
  12. ^ "Committee stops effort to lower grad age". Associated School Boards of South Dakota. February 25, 2010. Archived from the original on December 25, 2010. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  13. ^ Cook, Andrea (May 23, 2010). "Schools step in to rescue dropouts". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  14. ^ "Kristi Noem".
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  16. ^ Wood, Issac (June 10, 2010). "House Primary Update". Sabato's Crystal Ball.
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  39. ^ Herszenhorn, David M.; Robert Pear (January 19, 2011). "House Votes for Repeal of Health Law in Symbolic Act". The New York Times. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  40. ^ GOP House candidate wants to stop Democrat plans Archived March 23, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Associated Press, June 25, 2010.
  41. ^ a b Montgomery, David (January 20, 2011). "Noem, Republicans say replacement health care proposals on the way". Rapid City Journal. Lee Enterprises. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  42. ^ Woster, Kevin. Long after abortion wars, resentment toward Chris Nelson lingers, Rapid City Journal, March 1, 2010.
  43. ^ Hollingsworth, Barbara (June 15, 2010). "Pro-life women take political center stage". San Francisco Examiner. Archived from the original on May 18, 2020.
  44. ^ "Noem: SD Needs Better Energy Policy". KELO-TV. March 3, 2011. Archived from the original on March 11, 2011. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  45. ^ "New South Dakota Congresswoman Says Ethanol Subsidy Good for Recovery". Retrieved December 11, 2010.
  46. ^ a b Larsen, Kevin (November 18, 2014). "Noem To Continue Fight For Keystone XL". AM 610 KCSR. Chadron, Nebraska. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
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  48. ^ a b Woster, Kevin (March 20, 2011). "Rough road ahead in Congress for Johnson wilderness plan". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved March 20, 2011. Noem made opposition to Johnson's wilderness plan one of her prominent campaign points last year in her race against incumbent Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Democrat.
  49. ^ a b Ellis, Jonathan (October 9, 2010). "Kristi Noem's stance on Buffalo Gap draws ire from unexpected source". Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Gannett. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2011. Noem ... said Thursday the current management system preserves the land without threatening leaseholder options.
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  52. ^ Sue Sturgis, House votes to halt strict coal ash rules, but fight will continue in Senate, Facing South (Institute for Southern Studies) (February 21, 2011).
  53. ^ a b Montgomery, David (March 24, 2010). "Thune, Noem want answers on Libya". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
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  56. ^ A backronym based on "Keeping Republican Ideas Strong, Timely and Inventive"
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  58. ^ Willis, Derek (March 8, 2011). "G.O.P. Freshmen Forming Leadership PACs". The New York Times. Retrieved March 10, 2011.
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  62. ^ a b Dana Ferguson, Rep. Noem supports suspending U.S. refugee program, Argus Leader (January 29, 2017).
  63. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 31, 2017). "Whip Count: Here's where Republicans stand on Trump's controversial travel ban". Washington Post.
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  68. ^ Politico Staff (November 14, 2016). "Rep. Kristi Noem to run for South Dakota governor". Politico. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
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  73. ^ Sterling, Joe (February 1, 2019). "South Dakota is the latest state to allow concealed handguns to be carried without a permit". CNN. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  74. ^ Gstalter, Morgan (January 31, 2019). "South Dakota governor signs law to allow concealed handguns without a permit". The Hill. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
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  82. ^ Bradner, Eric (April 14, 2020). "South Dakota governor faces criticism over refusal to issue stay-at-home order after pork plant outbreak". CNN. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  83. ^ Witte, Griff (April 13, 2020). "South Dakota's governor resisted ordering people to stay home. Now it has one of the nation's largest coronavirus hot spots". Washington Post. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
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  85. ^ "Smithfield plant linked to 600 COVID-19 cases". Ontario Farmer. Postmedia News. April 17, 2020. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  86. ^ Matzen, Morgan (April 14, 2020). "Noem refuses banning evictions, utility shutoffs; rejects shelter-in-place request". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved April 16, 2020.
  87. ^ Noem, Kristi (April 6, 2020). "Executive Order 2020-12" (PDF). South Dakota Secretary of State.
  88. ^ Noem, Kristi (April 6, 2020). "Executive Order 2020-13" (PDF). South Dakota Secretary of State.
  89. ^ Strubinger, Lee (April 14, 2020). "Despite Outbreak, South Dakota Governor Hesitant To Issue Stay-At-Home Order". Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  90. ^ Cummings, William. "'We won't be social distancing' at Mount Rushmore celebration with Trump, says SD Gov. Noem". USA TODAY. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
  91. ^ "Convention Results". June 20, 2020. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  92. ^ "State Asking for Interest in Fencing SD Governor's Mansion". May 28, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  93. ^ "Noem No Fence in Pierre". June 10, 2019. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
  94. ^ "Governor-elect Kristi Noem hires daughter". December 7, 2018. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  95. ^ "Governor's daughter gets hefty raise". December 10, 2019. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  96. ^ "Secretary of State – Statewide Races". South Dakota Secretary of State. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
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  98. ^ "USDA subsidy information for Racota Valley Ranch". Environmental Working Group. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  99. ^ "The Freshman Class in Washington", The Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2010.
  100. ^ Fabian, Jordan (August 27, 2010). "'Please pull over': GOP candidate has 26 traffic violations". The Hill. Retrieved August 9, 2020.

External linksEdit

South Dakota House of Representatives
Preceded by
Art Fryslie
Member of the South Dakota House of Representatives
from the 6th district

Served alongside: Paul Nelson, Brock Greenfield
Succeeded by
Burt Tulson
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Dakota's at-large congressional district

Succeeded by
Dusty Johnson
Preceded by
Jaime Herrera Beutler
Chair of the Congressional Women's Caucus
Succeeded by
Susan Brooks
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dennis Daugaard
Republican nominee for Governor of South Dakota
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Dennis Daugaard
Governor of South Dakota
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within South Dakota
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Doug Burgum
as Governor of North Dakota
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside South Dakota
Succeeded by
Steve Bullock
as Governor of Montana