Sunday, October 03, 2010

South Dakota U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

South Dakota U.S. Senate

October 3, 2010
30 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Safe Republican

It is said that in politics, there are two ways to run for office; either run afraid, or run unopposed. In the case of freshman Republican Senator John Thune, he is running unopposed, in the only such contest this year for U.S. Senate or Governor, in which a major party did not put up a candidate.

This is quite a different experience for Thune, especially in comparison to his last two bids for the U.S. Senate. First elected as his state's lone Congressman in 1996, he entered into a tough battle in 2002 against incumbent Democrat Senator Tim Johnson. The race saw millions of dollars pour in from out of state, as many believed it could determine which party controlled the Senate. In a heartbreaking defeat, Thune lost by just over 500 votes.

After that race, he was considered the frontrunner to become South Dakota's Governor, and looked ahead to a potentially easier race, but the Bush White House prevailed upon him to take on another U.S. Senate run just two years later. In another epic South Dakota political battle, Thune defeated Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004 and was on his way back to Capitol Hill.

Considered a rising star in the GOP, Thune has been popular and seemingly politically secure that the Democrats have given him a free pass this year. The Senator from South Dakota may have an eventual place on his home state's Mount Rushmore in mind though, as Thune is considered someone to watch for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination. The Senator has already gotten some mention, especially from conservative blogger types, as the kind of attractive, "fresh-faced" conservative who would be a good challenger to President Obama. The two men were featured together in an occasional CNN series in 2005 as ambitious freshmen up and comers in the Senate.

Thune clearly seems to be keeping his future options open, however it seems a bit odd that an unopposed Senator has not been doing more in the midterms to help fellow Republicans and further his national profile.

Thune campaign link:

2010 U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 8 D, 24 R
Predicted U.S. Senate Balance of Power thus far: 48 D, 47 R