South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is set to speak at an upcoming Teton County GOP fundraiser, according to a Friday email from the county party.
Mary Martin, chairwoman of the county party, said the group reached out to the governor and she accepted the invite.
“We thought she would be someone people would be interested in hearing from and help us have a successful event,” Martin said.
Martin added that she has three goals for the event, which they are calling the “Patriots Dinner.” The party hopes to raise money, build relationships in the community and interest Republicans in running for office.
Noem, an ardent Donald Trump ally, has gained national attention for refusing to follow guidance of medical experts and the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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As governor, Noem remains staunchly against mask mandates and gave her blessing to multiple large events. Her response to COVID has been likened to Trump’s handling of the pandemic while in office.
“She’s been a very brave leader,” Martin said.
Teton County is the only Democratic stronghold in Wyoming. In the 2020 presidential election, the only other county that voted for Joe Biden was Albany County, but by a mere 2.7 points.
Teton County is also home to the highest concentration of billionaires per capita in the United States, so the fundraising opportunities are ample. That said, many of the county’s wealthy residents live there part time, so they may not be as committed or plugged into county politics.
Tickets are selling “really fast” Martin said — about 190 in the last month. Tables that seat 10 people cost $5,000 and individual seats cost $500.
The Teton County Republican Party said they plan to use the money raised to contribute to town and county level Republican campaigns in their effort to “make Teton County Wyoming again,” Martin said in the email.
Wyoming residents sometimes joke that Teton County and the town of Jackson are “the California of Wyoming” or say things like “Jackson isn’t ‘real’ Wyoming.”
Noem’s Teton County visit will be a “formal event” held Feb. 18 at the Four Seasons hotel, a luxury hotel located in Teton Village.
Noem’s office did not respond to request for comment Friday.