This is supposed to be the "Year of the Woman," but South Dakota's Democratic Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton is doing his best to try to keep Kristi Noem out of the winner's circle this year.

If Sutton wins this gubernatorial race he would be the first Democrat to win the state’s chief executive seat since Dick Knelp's re-election in 1974.

Noem is the sole member of the House of Representatives from South Dakota, meaning she's repeatedly won statewide election — often overwhelmingly. Her margin was 28 percentage points in 2016.

President Trump won South Dakota by just under 30 percentage points.

Yet a few weeks ago, the Cook Political Report changed it’s ranking to “Toss Up” after a public poll released by Sutton showed him up 3 percentage points over Noem.

So what gives?

Sutton does. In short he gives South Dakotans reasons to feel safe to vote for him: He plucked his running mate, Michelle Lavallee, from Republican ranks; he is pro-life; he is pro-gun; and he has a compelling life story as a former bronc rider who persevered through a tragic rodeo accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

The same things that make South Dakota voters open to him also make national Democrats uncomfortable with him.

Noem is running on expanding broadband connection, focusing on technical schools as part of her education agenda for the state, and lifting restrictions on summertime sale of gasoline with 15 percent ethanol.

Sutton, meanwhile, has a prairie-populist style with a strong anti-corruption focus. He may have discovered the secret code Democrats have been searching for to break into the governor's mansion.