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Newscast 12.7.2023: Republican presidential candidates heading to Siouxland; Woodbury County Democrats pick leadership team; Noem releases South Dakota 2025 budget

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is shown in a 2023 image from her campaign website.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley is shown in a 2023 image from her campaign website.

The important Iowa caucuses are less than six weeks away, and 2024 presidential candidates from the Republican Party are ramping up their activities in Siouxland in an appeal for supporters.

Former president Donald Trump campaigned in Sioux City in late October, and he continues to lead polls nationally and in Iowa related to the Republican race. Several other Republicans looking to move up will campaign in the area over the next few days, first with Nikki Haley holding a rally on Friday evening at the Sioux City Convention Center.

Then, the next day on Saturday, three Republicans will attend a fundraiser hosted by Northwest Iowa Congressman Randy Feenstra in Sioux Center, Iowa. The candidates taking part there will be Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramiswamy. A fourth candidate was originally going to take part, but Doug Burgum ended his campaign on Monday, ironically right before a planned stop at a Sioux City restaurant.

The event is called Faith and Family with the Feenstra’s, and will be held on the campus of Dordt University.

DeSantis made his first appearance in Siouxland back in May, also at an event hosted by Feenstra. The DeSantis team has sought inroads in Siouxland in varying ways, most recently by opening a campaign office in Sioux City in a final push to the January 15 caucuses, which are the first contest in the 2024 presidential nominee selection process.

Haley, DeSantis and Ramiswamy joined one other Republican candidate, Chris Christie, in a debate in Alabama yesterday, as Trump continues to make the calculation of participating in none of the four debates held to this point.

A fifth debate was just announced Thursday, as CNN will hold a debate in Des Moines on January 10, five days ahead of the caucuses.

In other political news, the Woodbury County Democratic Party on Wednesday extended the tenure of party chairman Dave Dawson in a vote of the executive committee.They held a special meeting to elect Dawson, who had served as interim chairman since March 2023.

Dawson is a former state legislator who in a release said he aims to strengthen the party in advance of the 2024 elections. There isn’t much of a race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, as President Joe Biden is running again.

However, Dawson encouraged Democrats to get ready to participate in the caucuses to “show support for protecting individual rights, investing wisely in public safety and human services delivery, safeguarding our environment, strengthening worker’s rights, and improving people’s lives in Woodbury County, in Iowa, and across the United States.”

In news from South Dakota, Governor Kristi Noem has outlined her budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year, which the Legislature will dig into during the session ahead that begins on January 9.

Noem proposed a budget that reduces spending overall, although it also has funding increases of 4 percent each in the areas of K-12 education, health care providers and state employees, according to the Associated Press.

Noem said legislators need to adopt a lean mentality, so her proposed budget of $7.3 billion dollars is slightly less than the current state budget of $7.4 billion.

Her budget includes continuing a state literacy effort, and expanding an education and jobs program for helping at-risk students graduate high school. Noem’s budget proposes $228 million for a new men’s prison to replace the aging facility at Sioux Falls.

South Dakota has over $130 million remaining from federal coronavirus aid. Noem’s plan would primarily put that money toward state water projects.