Rounds ponders run for Senate in 2014Mike Rounds, a former two-term governor, is considering a race against Sen. Tim Johnson in 2014. Neither man has ever lost a race.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
It would be a battle of undefeated campaigners, both familiar names and faces to almost all South Dakotans.
Mike Rounds, a former two-term governor, is considering a race against Sen. Tim Johnson in 2014. Neither man has ever lost a race.
Rounds said Friday he is giving “serious thought” to running for the seat held by Johnson, a Democrat.
The 57-year-old Rounds said he’s not interested in the U.S. House seat held by first-term Republican Rep. Kristi Noem. A Rapid City woman announced Thursday that she will run against Noem in the June primary.
In an interview in late 2010, Rounds noted that he has never lost an election, winning a primary and five races for the Legislature, as well as a primary and two races for governor.
Rounds was thrust in the state spotlight when he defeated two better-known, better-funded opponents, Steve Kirby and Mark Barnett, in the 2002 GOP primary for governor.
He breezed past Democratic challengers in both 2002 and 2006 and left office in January 2011 with high approval ratings from South Dakota residents.
His former chief of staff, Sioux Falls businessman Rob Skjonsberg, has reserved two Internet domain sites for a possible campaign: ROUNDSFORSENATE.com and ROUNDSFORSOUTHDAKOTA.com.
When he left office more than a year ago, Rounds, a Pierre native, said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to run for national office.
He said then he wasn’t sure what his future held — but also said he wasn’t ready to walk away from elective office.
“I’ll never say never,” Rounds said.
He said he enjoyed hitting the trail during a race for office.
“I enjoy meeting people. I enjoy the face-to-face campaigning,” Rounds said in the 2010 interview. “I hate the advertising. I detest the way campaigns are run. I really like the one-on-ones and the group discussions and the policy debate. I love that part of it. I really dislike the advertising.”
He said he considered a run for the Senate in 2002 but decided not to run. Johnson won that race, edging John Thune, who was later elected to the Senate.
Johnson was elected four times to the Legislature, to the U.S. House five times and has won three races to the U.S. Senate, all without suffering a political defeat along the way.
He has taken on big names before. Johnson defeated Larry Pressler and Thune in two of his races. Pressler served three terms in the Senate and Thune, who later defeated Tom Daschle, is now on his second term.
Johnson is in his third term in the Senate and if he runs for and wins a fourth term, he would be the only senator in state history to do so other than Karl Mundt, a Republican who was elected in 1948, 1954, 1960 and 1966.
Johnson, 65, shares something else in common with Mundt. Both men suffered severe brain injuries during their time in the Senate.
Mundt suffered a stroke in 1969 and never returned to the Senate, although he did not resign his seat and held the office until his term expired in 1973. He died in 1974.
Johnson suffered bleeding in the brain caused by acerebral artiovenous malformation, a congenital defect, on Dec. 13, 2006.
After missing several months of service, he returned to the Senate in 2007 and was re-elected to the office in 2008.
Johnson uses a wheelchair and cane, and his speech has been impacted by the illness. But he said he remains clear-headed and was elected chairman of the Senate Banking Committee in 2011.
Johnson has not revealed his plans for 2014.
The Associated Press also contributed to this report.