Senate Democrats' primary problem in South Dakota is turning into a recruitment one.
Former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin announced Monday morning that she will not seek South Dakota's open Senate seat — taking the party's top recruit in the state out of the running to hold the seat of retiring Sen. Tim Johnson.
Her decision came just a few days after it became apparent that U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, the senator's son and Herseth Sandlin's top possible primary contender, did not intend to run. Democrat Rick Weiland, a former aide to ex-Sen. Tom Daschle, entered the race on Wednesday. He and Johnson's top supporter both said that Johnson would not run.
(See also in Roll Call: Senate Race Recruitment: Too Early to Fail?)
Herseth Sandlin said in a statement posted to her Facebook page that she is confident she could have won. But she cited her young family — her son Zachary is starting kindergarten in fall 2014, just before the election — and desire to spend "quality time" in Sioux Falls as the reasons for her decision.
She did leave the door cracked open for a run in the future.
"There is no way of knowing if there will be another opportunity to serve South Dakota in elective office, but I’m so grateful for the opportunity I did have in an earlier and different stage of my life and for all the great friends I made along the way," Herseth Sandlin said.
Her decision could make the race more inviting for Republicans. Former Gov. Mike Rounds has had the GOP primary field to himself since November, but others, including Rep. Kristi Noem, are considering it.