South Dakota’s Thune to forgo presidential run
U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., leapt onto the national scene back in 2004 when he defeated then-Senate minority leader Tom Daschle.
That victory got many Republicans across the country thinking about Thune’s future, so it was only natural that when Republicans began talking about who might be able to topple a sitting Democratic president in 2012, Thune was on the short list.
Thune, a Murdo native, explored the idea of running for president in 2012 but announced this week that he’s not going to do it.
"I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate," read a statement he issued on his website.
I translate that to mean Thune didn’t think he had a great chance of winning. If you’re a politician and you think you have a great chance of winning the presidency, you run. The only reason you wouldn’t run — other than skeletons in the closet, which most people doubt Thune has — is if you don’t feel you have a great chance of getting your party’s nomination or winning the general election.
Thune’s decision was probably made easier by the fact that he’s a young 50, and he could certainly still run in 2016 or beyond. The wide-open Republican field for 2012 is sure to be a slugfest, and the victor will have to challenge one of the great politicians of our time in Barack Obama. That’s a tough set of circumstances.
In 2016, the timing might be better for Thune. At the moment (and assuming Obama wins a second term), it’s unlikely there will be a vice president from the outgoing administration in the 2016 race, which could make for an entirely different and relatively easier campaign.
For now, Thune joins the short list of South Dakota politicians who’ve seriously considered but stopped short of running for president. They include his former opponent, Tom Daschle, as well as former Sens. Karl Mundt and Larry Pressler (both Republicans). And then there was South Dakota native Hubert Humphrey, the former senator from Minnesota who was a Democratic presidential candidate many times.
The only South Dakotan to win a major-party presidential nomination is George McGovern, the Democrat who lost the 1972 general election to Richard Nixon.