But in their most recent dodging of that question, both Herseth Sandlin and Noem offer identical and perfectly sensible justifications for not naming their Speaker choice:
“I can’t say specifically on John Boehner because I don’t know what my other options are,” Noem said during an interview with the editorial board of the Argus Leader, a South Dakota newspaper. “There could be several people running.”
Noem added that if there were another candidate who better represented South Dakota’s interests, she would support that Republican over Boehner.
...In her own interview with the editorial board, Herseth Sandlin also struggled to answer whether she would vote for Pelosi to retain her position as Speaker if Democrats maintain the majority.
“I don’t know who will be running,” she said. “I haven’t made any commitments” [Anna Palmer, "GOP Candidate Won't Commit to Backing Boehner," Roll Call, 2010.10.21].
I can see the logic in both women's response (yes, even Kristi's, the queen of illogic). Pelosi and Boehner may not be on the ballot. Each may face challenges from other candidates. Heck, if the Dems hang on to the majority, Herseth Sandlin herself may run to roar conservative Blue Dog power. If the GOP takes the majority, Joe Wilson or Michele Bachmann may run to declare the age of Tea (although the Tea Party may be much weaker than the media hypes them to be).
The lone representative from South Dakota perhaps cannot afford to get out in front of the Speaker race and take a chance of alienating anyone who might be the eventual leader. Pick Pelosi or Boehner now, and on the off chance someone else takes the gavel, you've reduced your pull with the winner. Go out on a limb and say you don't back the current leader of your party, and you've just cast your lot with an admittedly unlikely insurgency and put yourself in the dog house with the most powerful person in your party.
Arguably, throwing in with a Speaker candidate now would be like endorsing Pastor Steve Hickey at 9 a.m. on February 16. Waiting until you have an actual slate of candidates to endorse one is not terribly bold, but it's perfectly reasonable.
And given that Noem and Herseth Sandlin are doing exactly the same thing, the whole Speaker vote issue would appear to be moot.