Thune holds Senate seat; seizes historic fourth term

Thune, 61, has won his fourth term in the United State Senate. He becomes only the second South Dakotan in state history to do so.
South Dakota Senator John Thune delivers remarks to supporters after being elected to a...
South Dakota Senator John Thune delivers remarks to supporters after being elected to a historic fourth term in the United States Senate.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 8:04 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Republican U.S. Senator John Thune has defeated Democrat Brian Bengs and Libertarian Tamara Lesnar. The Associated Press (AP) called the race shortly after polls closed in the western part of the state.

Thune becomes just the second South Dakotan in state history to be elected to a fourth term in the United States Senate. Karl Mundt, a Republican from Humboldt, served the state from 1948 to 1973.

Bengs, a native of Aberdeen, ran as a former Independent. Bengs pointed to Sen. Thune’s more than 20 years in Washington as a reason not to vote for him.

However, Thune leaned into his experience in Washington as a positive, cutting ads with his family referencing some of his earliest campaigns for national offices, and argued that experience was needed to go toe to toe with national Democrats.

“We need to have someone in there that can punch with the big dogs, and that’s what I do on a daily basis,” Thune said during the race’s only debate.

The victory also keeps Thune on the fast track to become the next Majority Leader of the United States Senate, depending on the results of a number of Senate races across the country. Currently, Thune serves as the Minority Whip, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate. If Thune manages to seize control of that post, he would become the first from South Dakota to do so since Tom Daschle in 2003, who Thune would upset two years later.

The victory also continues the GOP’s streak of holding all three of South Dakota’s congressional offices. A Democrat has not served in one of those positions since 2011.