south-dakota

Potential Thune Challenger Bows Out

Thune is up for re-election in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The son of a former senator who was considered one of Democrats' best chances to challenge Sen. John Thune told CQ Roll Call he has no plans to run for political office in 2016.  

"It’s certainly something that I would consider in the future," former U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson said. "But it’s not anything that I have any sort of plan or interest in doing at the moment."  

Brendan Johnson Discusses His Future in South Dakota (Updated)

Thune, left, is a Republican from South Dakota. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:00 p.m. | U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson's resignation could mean Democrats have found a potential candidate to challenge Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., in 2016.  

Johnson, the son of former Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., announced Wednesday he will join a private law firm in Sioux Falls. As a U.S. Attorney, Johnson was prohibited from engaging in politics; as a private lawyer, he would be free to launch a campaign.  

South Dakota Senate Race Returns to Form

Attacks on Pressler appear to have worked. (Amy Sussman/Getty Images File Photo)

Republican attacks on Democrat Rick Weiland and Independent Larry Pressler appear to have worked, making it more likely that the GOP will pick up the seat of retiring Democratic Senator Tim Johnson, as long expected.  

Republican Mike Rounds, a former two-term GOP governor, found himself in shockingly uncomfortable position earlier this month, but his standing has improved in the eyes of both strong and weak Republican voters, as well as among Independents. Support for Pressler, a one-time GOP senator who has said that he would be a friend of Obama if elected to the Senate and has acknowledged that he voted for Obama, has melted away over the past few weeks.  

Weak GOP Candidates May Need More Than a Good Year

Tillis hopes to unseat Hagan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans have the wind at their backs this year. But not every GOP nominee is taking advantage of that dynamic. As usual, some candidates are under-performing, proving once again that candidates and the campaigns they choose to run actually matter.  

That should come as no surprise to anyone who watched Republican Senate nominees Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana implode in 2012 or Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell and Colorado Republican Ken Buck lose in 2010.  

Ratings Change: South Dakota Senate

Republican Mike Rounds continues to underperform in what has become a wacky three-way fight (four-way, if you count the Libertarian on the ballot). While the state’s Republican bent could well bail him out in November, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee has allocated money for the race , we can no longer rule out the possibility of a strange outcome.  

Former Gov. Rounds holds a narrow lead over former Republican Sen. Larry Pressler, with Democrat Rick Weiland running third but not out of the race. Republican insiders groan about Rounds’ poor campaign and weak fundraising, as well as the candidate’s underwhelming performance on the stump. Pressler has been saying nice things about Obama and clearly has appeal to Democrats, but he is also getting a chunk of Republicans who don’t like Rounds. National Democratic strategists seem to be content with either Pressler or Weiland winning, and they are focusing their attacks on tearing down the Republican rather than choosing one of the alternatives to him.  

Independents Could Control Power in Senate

Roberts, left, debates Orman during a luncheon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The power in the Senate could increasingly flow not to Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, but to a few independents who could hold the keys to the majority — and they know it.  

The two unexpected GOP trouble spots in the Midwest feature independent candidates who are making noise about not joining either side in a divided Senate. In Kansas it's Greg Orman, who is challenging long-time GOP incumbent Pat Roberts. Republicans are extremely dubious of Orman, pointing to campaign dollars he's given to top Democrats, although Orman is fond of pointing to contributions to Republicans as well.  

Fight for Senate Control Down to Five States

With six weeks to go, the fight for control of the Senate is down to five states, four of them currently held by Democrats.  

Republicans must win only two of those contests to guarantee the 51 seats they need to control the Senate for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. And they need to win only one of the Democratic states if they hold the only GOP seat at serious risk.  

Rothenberg: Senate GOP Gains At Least 7 Seats

Pryor is one incumbent in perilous position. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While the current Rothenberg Political Report ratings don’t show it, I am now expecting a substantial Republican Senate wave in November, with a net gain of at least seven seats.  

But I wouldn’t be shocked by a larger gain.  

Slip of the Tongue in South Dakota Senate Debate (Video)

Republicans are favored to pick up Johnson's open seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Dakota Democratic Senate hopeful Rick Weiland apparently is not so hopeful.  

Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds is the clear front-runner for the state's open Senate seat, and Weiland accidentally ceded that fact at a debate Wednesday.  

Primary Results: Montana, South Dakota Races (Updated)

Johnson will not seek re-election in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Gov. Mike Rounds won the Republican nomination for Senate in South Dakota Tuesday.  

Rounds, a popular former governor, is expected to all-but coast to the Senate seat in November. The seat is open because Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is retiring at the end of this year.