Sen. Thune may or may not run for re-election
WASHINGTON — South Dakota Senator John Thune is fast approaching a self-imposed deadline to announce whether or not he’ll run for re-election.
Sen. Thune is currently the second-highest ranking Republican in the U.S. Senate.
In recent interviews with NewsCenter1, Sen. Thune has cited family concerns and the rigors of constant commuting to Washington as reasons he might not seek re-election.
Sources in the South Dakota Republican Party have indicated to NewsCenter1 that the announcement could come as soon as early next week.
Thune was first elected to congress in 1996, serving three terms as the state’s only member of the House of Representatives.
In 2004, he challenged and defeated Senator Tom Daschle, then the leader of the Democrats in the Senate.
Sen. Thune has been a vocal advocate for Ellsworth Air Force Base in western South Dakota, first fighting against the base’s closure in 2005, then successfully pressing to have the new B-21 bomber based there.
If he runs again and is re-elected, Thune would be considered a front-runner to become the Senate Republican leader after Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell retires.
That could give South Dakota a significant influence at a time when Rapid City and western South Dakota are facing the biggest economic boom in the region’s history, with thousands of people and over a billion dollars flowing into the area to support the B-21 bomber program.