South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem received a flamethrower for Christmas from her staff and photos online showed her giddily incinerating a pile of trash.
She has now attempted the political equivalent by siccing her mouthpiece—the perfectly named Ian Fury—on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
It’s a fight involving two people so loathsomely ambitious that you can only hope it ends with both of them losing. But Noem is so extreme that she somehow manages to make DeSantis look less terrible.
It began when National Review reporter Nate Hochman reached out to Fury for comment on a story he was writing on “the transgender lobby’s outsized influence in South Dakota.” The story was timely because the state’s biggest employer, Sanford Health, will be holding a “Gender Identity Summit” in Sioux Falls on Friday to “review the needs of transgender patients in healthcare.”
By Hochman’s account, Fury responded with a lengthy statement rejecting “any implication that Governor Noem is overly cozy with’ major lobbying groups that helped kill a long line of anti-gender-ideology bills in the state.”
Fury then sent a second email, resorting to deflection.
“Governor Noem was the only Governor in America on national television defending the Dobbs decision,” Fury wrote in an email to the reporter, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
“Where was Governor DeSantis?’” Fury asked. “Hiding behind a 15-week ban. Does he believe that 14-week-old babies don’t have a right to live?”
It was a reference to the fact that this fall, DeSantis signed a law outlawing abortion after 15 weeks but has not promised to further restrict the right to end a pregnancy.
Noem, on the other hand, has endorsed her state’s near-total ban on abortion. She has gone beyond even her own conservative state legislature in supporting a ban on abortion after the first heartbeat is detected.
The abortion issue is a rare sliver of daylight between the two Republicans.
Both are MAGA acolytes, strident culture warriors and champions of “parental choice” who opposed lockdowns and masks and vaccine mandates and other public health measures they characterize as un-American challenges to our God-given freedoms.
But Fury, in his message to the journalist, managed to highlight the one area where DeSantis may be less reprehensible than Noem.
Fury declined to comment, beyond referring The Daily Beast to a Twitter thread that says Hochman “long ago outed himself as someone with an unhealthy bias” against Noem. Fury also accused Hochman on Twitter of “carrying water for Gov. DeSantis.”
But the Democratic National Committee was less reticent; as Florida Politics reported, it made hay with the spat in a message from its “War Room.”
The DNC noted that both DeSantis and Noem have designs on 2024. DeSantis likely is not worried about Noem hurting his chances of taking the presidency, and he did not respond to a request for comment about the spat.
But Noem may be gambling that by torching DeSantis, she ups her chances of being chosen as Trump’s running mate. They they would both have plenty of opportunity to throw flames. Of course, if either one of them were to win, it’s the rest of us that would get burned.