South Dakota: Wealthy Ex-LG Won’t Run Against Johnson

Posted March 10, 2008 at 6:42pm

In a blow to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, former Lt. Gov. Steve Kirby (R) announced Monday that he would not run for Senate this year.

Kirby’s move leaves the NRSC without a top-tier candidate in GOP-leaning South Dakota, and would appear to make Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D) path to re-election measurably easier. Kirby’s decision also appears to leave Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) seat as the lone pickup opportunity for Senate Republicans this cycle.

“My family and I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and encouragement from many of our South Dakota friends in recent weeks as I have considered a bid for the United States Senate,” Kirby wrote in an e-mail.

“Suzie and I want to thank all of our friends who have done so much to support us during this time of decision. I have decided, however, not to seek the 2008 GOP nomination for the United States Senate at this time.”

With Kirby out, Republicans are left with three lightweight candidates vying for the GOP Senate nomination — and none of them is expected to give Johnson much of a race in November. State Rep. Joel Dykstra, businessman Sam Kephart and retired real estate agent Bert Tollefson are running for the Republicans.

Kirby was seen as dangerous enough to Johnson that the Senator’s campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee lashed out at the former lieutenant governor last week, although he had not yet announced a decision on whether to run.
— David M. Drucker