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Johnson waiting on Thune decision before speculating on political future

Thune floor speech.png
Senator John Thune delivering floor remarks on December 16, 2021

US Representative Dusty Johnson says he's giving Senator John Thune space about his decision whether to run for re-election to the US Senate.

If running, Senator Thune will seek a fourth term in the U.S. Senate, which hasn't been done in South Dakota since Karl Mundt in 1966. Thune ousted Senator Tom Daschle in 2004, who was majority leader at the time.

It's widely assumed that, if Thune were not to run, Representative Johnson would seek the ranking Republican Senator's seat.

"I just think I need to give him the space to make his decision before doing any speculation about what anybody else would do after he decides," Johnson said.

Neither Johnson nor Thune have announced re-election bids to their respective positions. In 2020, Johnson announced in February he would seek re-election. That still gives him a few more months before announcing a potential bid for 2022. Thune also announced his 2016 re-election bid in February.

Johnson has about $1.7 million in his political war chest. Thune has about $15 million.

If they were to seek re-election, both would have primary challengers.

Johnson says Thune has been an incredible US Senator.

"He doesn't take a lot of credit for what he does. There are lots of instances where he's made something important happen for our country," Johnson says. "He's maybe bent the trajectory—the arc of this country toward freedom, but he doesn't go on every cable new show and brag about himself. So, sometimes we don't realize it."

Senator Thune, the number 2 ranking Republican in the Senate, is expected to make his decision by the end of the year.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.