John Thune, No. 2 Senate Republican, Will Seek Re-election

WASHINGTON – South Dakota Senator John Thune, the second Republican in the Senate, announced Saturday that he will seek re-election, after a violent lobbying campaign by colleagues prompted him to set aside concerns about his party’s future and seek a fourth victory. term.

“I am asking residents of South Dakotan for the opportunity to continue their service in the United States Senate,” Thun, the minority whip, said in a statement, adding that he could perform for his state.

“I am in a unique position to accomplish this task,” he said.

South Dakotan, who turned 61 on Friday, recently told aides he was considering retirement, complained about congressional service pressures and privately expressed concern about former President Donald J. Trump’s continuing grip on the Republican Party.

But by seeking re-election in an ultra-conservative state, Mr. Thun is well positioned to win again and likely succeed Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, as the Senate’s largest Republican.

A group of Senate Republicans has relied on Mr. Thun in recent weeks to run again, but Mr. McConnell has been particularly aggressive and met him privately last week. The Kentucky Republican will turn 80 next month and has made clear he wants to remain his party’s leader in the Senate until 2023, when he becomes the longest-serving party leader in the chamber’s history.

It is unclear how long Mr. McConnell will serve next, although an open question has helped tempt Mr. Thon to seek another term. Mr. Thon told his aides that he was confident he would have the support to succeed Mr. McConnell when the commander was gone.

But South Dakotan will face competition for the position. Senator John Cornyn of Texas preceded Mr. Thun as the party whip and indicated his desire to succeed Mr. McConnell, as did Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, now the 3rd Republican.

For now, Mr. Thun will have to go through the re-election process in South Dakota, which rejected the two most famous senators, George S. McGovern and Tom Daschle, both Democrats, in their nominations for a fourth term.

However, the only real obstacle for Mr. Thun would be preliminary. He postponed his decision to run until the new year because he wanted to reduce the time a potential Republican challenger would have to face a fundamental challenge — and reduce Mr. Trump’s window to causing mischief.

The former president lashed out at Mr Thun at the end of 2020 after the senator said Mr Trump’s unfounded objections to the election would go down “like a hound” in the Senate.

This prompted the former president, who maintains an iron grip on the Republican Party and has already interfered in a series of 2022 primaries to further consolidate his power, to taunt Mr. Thun as a “boy Mitch” and “Reno,” or a Republican in name only.

“He will be elected in the 2022 primaries, and his political career will be over!!!” Mr. Trump warned at the time.

But no major competitor has emerged. Trump allies in the Senate said last month that former President Thun was unlikely to oppose Thun if the senator appeared to win re-nomination.

Once the epicenter of prairie populism, South Dakota has turned deep red in the past two decades, a transformation that began with Mr. Thon’s defeat of Mr. Daschle in 2004.

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