President Donald Trump heads to South Dakota on Friday for a campaign rally, where he is expected to receive the endorsement of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
The event is Trump’s first public appearance at a rally since he was indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, over charges related to interference in the 2020 election. For Noem, the rally is a chance to cater a strong connection with Trump and establish herself as a loyal surrogate to the one-term president’s latest presidential campaign.
The rally comes at a time where Trump is expanding his lead in the GOP primary, but is still devoting a large amount of time to dealing with the 90-some felony charges against him. Top advisers and officials under Trump from his administration are also battling lawsuits. On Thursday, Peter Navarro, the former director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy during the Trump administration, was convicted on two counts of criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to adhere to a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Developments like that have not had much of an effect on Trump’s lead in the primary. Recent polling has shown Trump with a wide lead over his opponents in the primary, including a CNN/SSRS poll released this week that found he was ahead of his nearest opponent, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, by more than 30 points.
Trump’s appearance in South Dakota also highlights another dynamic of the primary: most governors thus far have refrained from endorsing in the presidential race. Two sitting Republican governors are running for president – DeSantis and Doug Burgum of North Dakota – and Trump has been endorsed by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice. Noem’s expected endorsement underscores Trump’s lead and continued consolidation of power in the primary.