South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune has revealed he may retire and not run in the 2022 midterms, a decision with enormous consequences in the 50-50 divided Senate.
“Obviously, the opportunities in leadership is a consideration — for sure, it’s a consideration,” Thune told CNN, who has served as senator since 2004.
“But there are lots of other (factors) too. … I’ve been doing it for 25 years. I think you gotta get into family considerations, personal considerations. And obviously it’s a place where we can make a difference, and that’s why you do it.”
The 60-year-old senator noted, “It’s a six-year commitment,” a term that would carry him to the age of 67 in Congress for 24 years.
However, the choice would have major consequences for the Senate. Currently at 50-50, even a single seat change could flip the power from one party to the other.
South Dakota remains a strong Republican base, and another conservative Senate candidate would likely emerge. However, there would be a risk in handing over a chance for a new leader.
Who would emerge if Thune departs. It’s too early to tell, but Gov. Kristi Noem has strong appeal across the state and nationwide. If she chose to run, it would create a strong female conservative candidate who would have a national platform to lead in South Dakota.
For now, leaders will wait and see as Thune still has time to make a decision. Once he does, a potential scramble for his seat will certainly quickly unfold as the 2022 election nears.