Jim Abdnor upset liberal icon Sen. George McGovern in 1980 before getting beat himself six years later. Abdnor was a mentor for now-Sen. John Thune.
“I came to know Jim through our mutual love of sports and have been blessed to have him as a mentor and a role model. Kimberley and I and our daughters, who Jim treated as his own, will always remember Jim’s friendship and mentoring and his boundless love for South Dakota. He was a mentor and a friend and I will miss him greatly,” added Thune, who worked for Abdnor in the Senate as a legislative assistant. Abdnor was President Ronald Reagan’s pick to lead the Small Business Administration after his 1986 loss, and Thune worked for him there as well.
Daschle also praised his former opponent.
“Jim Abdnor earned the respect and admiration of everyone who had the good fortune to know or work with him, including me. South Dakota had no better advocate. He was a dedicated and devoted public servant who encouraged public service in others, too. I am deeply saddened by the news of his death,” Daschle said in a statement.