The Washington Post is profiling South Dakota’s senior US Senator John Thune today, as they discuss where he’s likely to land in the Senate’s hierarchy in the post-November election Senate:
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, 55, will be reelected overwhelmingly in November, no matter what happens to Donald Trump or in the fight for Senate control. You can bet on it.
What is less clear is whether there is a place for Thune in the new Republican Party, and what kind of place that might be.
“You have to be prepared when opportunities come along,” Thune told me by phone this week from South Dakota, where he is touring the state rather than attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Thune never pulled the trigger on that race, of course, and the senator suggested in another Politico piece early last year that his window for a presidential run may have already closed.
But Thune told me he has neither completely ruled out a future presidential bid nor given a bid any thought at all. “This year people were looking for someone to channel their frustration,” he remarked, all but acknowledging that is not his style.
Third, Thune is the chair of the Senate Republican Conference, making him the third-ranking Republican in the Senate. He also chairs the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, a committee that Arizona Sen. John McCain once used to boost his profile. In other words, Thune is very relevant on Capitol Hill.
Thune, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, also says that if Congress ever turns its attention to big economic issues, he is ready to be a player.
“If we ever get to tax reform, I’d love to be in the middle of that fight,” he told me.
And finally, Thune is conservative but also is personable and likable — something in short supply for his party of late. As a candidate for higher office or a spokesman for his party, Thune would appeal to Republicans but also to those outside his party. He invariably sounds thoughtful, measured and reasonable.
Did you catch the part where the author notes “South Dakota Sen. John Thune, 55, will be reelected overwhelmingly in November”? I suspect you can count on that pretty easily.