Report: Senator Tim Johnson Not Running For Re-Election

It looks like we’ll have another Senate vacancy in 2014:

(Reuters) – U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, a South Dakota Democrat, does not plan to run for re-election when his current term ends in 2014, sources said on Monday.

Connor Simpson notes that Johnson’s retirement puts the Democrats dangerously close to having a big problem in 2014:

Johnson’s retirement brings the number of new Senate seats that Democrats have to defend in 2014 up to five: West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, and New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg have all announced their retirement. Politico describes the Democrats’ chances of holding on to Johnson’s Senate seat in the 2014 election as “perilous,” and perhaps one of the party’s biggest threats after protecting Rockefeller’s seat, while Michigan and New Jersey are seen as fairly risk-averse. But, still, that’s dangerously close to the Democrats’ fatal number: six, or, how many seats the party would need to lose to relinquish control of the Senate to Republicans. Losing control would deal the ultimate blow to President Obama’s chances of getting anything done in the latter half of his second term. They have enough trouble already with Republicans controlling Congress, surrendering the Senate would be disastrous.

Of course, Democrats were in a similarly perilous position in 2012 and they actually ended up gaining two seats instead of losing control of the Senate. The difference in 2014, though, will be that they won’t be able to rely upon Barack Obama’s coattails and the fact that, historically, the party holding the White House has lost seats in the midterms that take place in the 6th year of a two-term Presidency.

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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. Neil Hudelson says:

    The prospects are even more bleak when you look at which seats the Republicans have to defend. Tell me, which of these look like easy pickups for the Dems?

    Lamar Alexander (Tennessee)
    Saxby Chambliss (Georgia)*
    Thad Cochran (Mississippi)
    Susan Collins (Maine)
    John Cornyn (Texas)
    Michael Enzi (Wyoming)
    Lindsey Graham (South Carolina)
    James Inhofe (Oklahoma)
    Mike Johanns (Nebraska)*
    Mitch McConnell (Kentucky)
    James Risch (Idaho)
    Pat Roberts (Kansas)
    Jeff Sessions (Alabama)

    Susan Collins’s seat sure, possibly Lamar Alexandar’s could be in play, After that? So far Ms. Judd’s chances of unseating Mitch McConnell isn’t impressive.

  2. @Neil Hudelson:

    Unless Collins decides not to run for re-election creating another open seat in Maine, I can’t see the GOP losing any of those seats

  3. matt bernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson & @Neil Hudelson:
    As with the last two elections, the GOP’s Senate chances rise and fall with the candidates. Provided all of the those up for reelection stand, and moderate Republicans make it through the primary process, there’s a real chance that they will gain seats.

    That said, if Graham gets primaried and loses to someone from his right, or if Akin’s get the nod in states where a Democrat is retiring (Steve King, for example, is a front runner for the Iowa spot), then once again the GOP may snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  4. @matt bernius:

    Iowa is a state that will rise and fall on who the nominee is.

    South Carolina will elect the Republican running whether it’s Graham or someone else. It’s also worth noting that S.C.’s other Senate seat will be up for a Special Election in 2014 due to Jim DeMint’s retirement last years. Right now that seat is held by former Congressman Tim Scott who gives every indication of intending to stand for election. Whether he has any primary challengers remains to be seen.

  5. stonetools says:

    It looks tough for the Democrats, but they understand what’s at stake. I can tell you liberals are going to fight like demons in the 2014 elections. Liberals in 2010 were talking about staying home to “send Harry Reid a message.” No one, absolutely NO ONE, is talking like that about 2014.
    They have the OFA game plan and organizational apparatus to to help them get ready for 2014, and Patty Murray is going to see if she can repeat her successful 2012 defense effort. Who knows, with an improving economy and couple of Todd Akins clones, the Dems might be successful again. They might even do a pickup in Georgia.

  6. @stonetools:

    That may well be, but it is inevitable that turnout in 2014 will be well below what it was in 2012.

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Doh. For some reason I was thinking Collins had announced her retirement. I was confusing that election with this past year’s election.

    Yeah, in that case I don’t see any of those seats going to the Democrat. Alexander was/is a far stretch.

    And you are right re: South Carolina. As someone who was there for the 2008 election, I can tell you a Democrat has the proverbial snowball’s chance of winning a statewide contest there. It’s really not even possible for a Democrat to run a race that would appear reasonably close.

  8. stonetools says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    We’ll see. All the liberal blogs I know are putting out the message that the off year elections are as important as the presidential elections, and they aren’t going to be blindsided again.
    After 2008, there was a lot of Democratic triumphalism -a feeling that the war was won and that all that remained was to divide up the spoils. Democrats most certainly don’t feel that way now. They now see 2012 as just the first stage of a long campaign.
    Also too, the PRESIDENT understands that he can expect no bi-partisan cooperation, and any hope of a legacy is bound up in Democratic Congressional success in 2014. This already means a change in rhetoric. For most of the first term, his theme was “Washington is broken”. Now his theme is much more “We had an election, and the Republicans are to blame for nothing happening in Washington”. Expect Obama to work much more closely with the Congressional Democrats, and to campaign hard for them in a way he didn’t in 2010. I think the Democratic effort is going to look a lot more like 2006 than it will like 2010- and we all know what the results were in 2006.

  9. Ben says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Man, not a single one of those seats has a freaking prayer of flipping. In a good number of those states, the Republicans could nominate Daffy flippin’ Duck and he’d win.

  10. stonetools says:


    The best Democratic chance for a pickup would be if Collins retires. Maine would likely go Democrat then. Georgia would be a bigger ask-but then no one thought the Democrats would win in Indiana or Missouri in 2012. You gotta BELEEEEEEIVE!

  11. An Interested Party says:

    Considering how Republicans have already gummed up the works, particularly in the Senate, will things be that radically different if they take over the Senate? Indeed, at that point, the Democrats can go filibuster-crazy just like Republicans have been doing for some time…