John Thune For President ?

Stephen Hayes has a profile over at The Weekly Standard of South Dakota Senator John Thune, who seems poised to be among the first Republicans to enter the race for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012.

The article itself is long, but rather than trying to summarize it, I’ll just recommend that you give it a read.

After I finished it, though, these thoughts came to mind.

  • Outside of politically active conservatives, Thune is relatively unknown. If he’s going to run, he needs to announce early and begin fundraising and getting his name out there.
  • His biggest liability in the primaries, outside of the the lack of name recognition, is likely to be his vote in favor of the Troubled Assets Relief Program in 2008. So far, all but two incumbents who voted for TARP who have faced a serious challenge from the right have been defeated, with the one Republican exception being John McCain and the one Democratic exception being Blanche Lincoln. If the populist anti-bailout fervor is still around in 2012, Thune will have a problem with his TARP vote.
  • Assuming he can overcome these handicaps, Thune may be uniquely positioned to benefit from the downfall of one of the A-List candidates in Iowa given that he lives only ten miles from the Iowa-South Dakota border:

Thune may not be one of the first active candidates when the 2012 campaign kicks off on November 3, but he will have a major advantage when he begins to run in earnest: Iowa. Sioux Falls, where Thune lives, is about 10 miles from the Iowa border. (Sioux City, Iowa, is 87 miles away.) Many of the issues that concern South Dakota voters are the same ones that affect voters in Iowa

If Thune decides to run, he will campaign in Iowa by extending a conversation he’s already having with many of his own constituents. On agriculture, for instance, he knows the issues exceptionally well and talks to ranchers and farmers with an understanding of their concerns. And he speaks with them in their jargon—no small matter. Most of the other candidates—with the notable exception of Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty—will only just be learning the language. Add to that Thune’s facility with small group politics—the kind of campaigning that often proves decisive in the Iowa caucuses—and Thune has the potential to be a first-tier candidate after the first contest of the 2012 race for president. That too would be no small thing.

The political press loves covering dark horses who come out of nowhere, and Thune could benefit from coverage like that in Iowa. That would be his chance to get national attention. What he does with it will be up to him, and the voters.

And, hey, we’ve never had a President from South Dakota before.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. wr says:

    He’s  just what the Republicans need — a man with the intellectual gravitas of Dan Quayle and the charisma of Michael Dukakis. But if the rest of the pack is made up of clowns, arsonists and howler monkeys like Palin and Gingrich, maybe he’ll look good by comparison.

    That is, assuming there’s a single Republican out there who doesn’t want a carnival barker for their candidate…