Minnesota GOP taps South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem as keynote speaker for annual dinner

The Minnesota Republicans have announced Noem will speak at its March 12 event.

The Minnesota Republicans announced today its annual Lincoln Reagan dinner will feature South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem as the keynote speaker.

The announcement, which has sparked a subsequent online backlash, with Noem proving one of the most prominent opponents of government-imposed restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19. South Dakota has the 6th-highest death rate per 100,000 people out of all states.

It also comes amid speculation that Noem may run for president in 2024, though Noem told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader in January that her focus was on South Dakota. 

Despite South Dakota being one of the hardest-hit states by the coronavirus, Noem has grown her presence in the Republican party by touting her laissez-faire approach  and campaigning for Donald Trump last fall. She also promoted the former president's lie that the Nov. 3 election was "rigged," which ultimately led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Tickets for the March 12 dinner are "extremely limited," an email to members said. The current state guidelines limit indoor gatherings to 25 percent capacity of the venue, with a maximum of 250 people. 

The Minnesota GOP, whose own chair Jennifer Carnahan has railed against some of the COVID mitigation efforts taken in Minnesota, recently held a winter retreat in Deadwood, South Dakota.

South Dakota, one of a handful of states to not have enacted a mask mandate or stay-at-home order, has experienced some of the country's worst surges, and with last week's daily average of 18 new cases per 100,000 people, South Dakota is one of three states where cases are currently "higher and staying high," according to an analysis from New York Times.

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