Republican Kristi Noem projected to win South Dakota gubernatorial race: NBC News

  • Republican Rep. Kristi Noem is projected to win the South Dakota gubernatorial race, NBC News projects.
Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican from South Dakota
Aaron P. Bernstein | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Rep. Kristi Noem, a Republican from South Dakota

Republican Rep. Kristi Noem will become governor of South Dakota, defeating Democratic state Sen. Billie Sutton after one of the tightest gubernatorial contests of the cycle, NBC News projects.

It's a boost for Republicans, who are hoping to entrench their majority of governorships nationwide. The two candidates remained within striking distance until the very end.

Noem, who has served in Congress since 2011, entered into the race for governor just six days after winning her most recent election. Her candidacy drew attention from the White House, which dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to South Dakota in the campaign's final days.

The congresswoman sought to tie Sutton to the national Democratic Party. In a state that went to President Donald Trump by more than 60 percent in 2016, that strategy proved effective.

Her campaign was bolstered by a late surge of funding, including nearly $1 million in contributions in the final week. That compares with just over half a million dollars raised by Sutton in the same period.

Noem will succeed the two-term Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican.