Thune to seek re-election to the U.S. Senate

Published: Jan. 8, 2022 at 11:40 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota Senator John Thune plans to seek re-election to the United States Senate.

Despite rumors of retirement, Sen. John Thune (R, S.D.) has announced plans to run for reelection in 2022.

Thune announced Saturday that he will seek to retain his seat in the November election. Anticipation for the announcement rose in recent months as he delayed the decision to consider retirement.

In a statement, Thune said South Dakota deserves a strong and effective senator who can deliver the results they expect.

“I am uniquely positioned to get that job done and I look forward to earning the support of all South Dakotans in the 2022 election for U.S. Senate.

Currently the second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, Thune is one of the most influential politicians in recent South Dakota history. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996, and served there until 2002 when he unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat. Thune returned to Congress in 2004 when he successfully unseated Sen. Tom Daschle, who was the Senate Minority Leader at the time. The race received national attention and was one of the most hotly contested elections in state history.

Thune generally enjoyed widespread popularity from state Republicans ever since, easily winning two subsequent elections, including one where he ran unopposed. However, he has received friction from some in his own party over his occasional political dust-ups with former President Donald Trump. He pushed back against some of Trump’s more divisive comments during the 2016 election. Thune garnered Trump’s public ire following the 2020 election when the Senator acknowledged Pres. Joe Biden’s victory and said it was time to “move on.” Trump, who continues to insist without proof that the election was stolen, called Thune a “RINO” and urged Gov. Kristi Noem to run against him in the Republican primary.

Thune, who turned 61 Friday, has not said whether those brushes with Trump and subsequent enmity from some of the former President’s supporters contributed to him considering retirement. He has made few public statements about his political future, aside from repeatedly pushing back the timeframe of his reelection announcement. His most definitive statement came in a recent interview with the Black Hills Pioneer, where he said his wife wanted him to retire.

However, Thune’s announcement puts to bed any rumors he won’t be a part of the state’s political future.

The Senator will face contenders in the upcoming election, including several from his own party. Republicans Mark Mowry, Patrick Schubert, and Bruce Whalen have all announced plans to run against Thune in the party’s primary election in June. In addition, Brian Bengs of Aberdeen has publicly said he will run in the November election as a Democrat.

Any of these challengers will face long odds against Thune. A poll published Nov. 4 by Morning Consult found 88% of Republican voters in South Dakota either somewhat or strongly approve of Thune’s job performance - a nearly 20-point increase from the same poll conducted six months earlier.

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