South Dakota Senator John Thune Declines a Run for President in 2012

Bookmark and Share The evolving Republican presidential field today takes another turn which takes one contender out of the running but leaves the door wider open for others to enter through.

Statement posted on Friends of John Thune Website

Today in a statement released by John Thune, the second term senator from South Dakota ruled out a run for President in 2012. According to the senator;

“At this time, I feel that I am best positioned to fight for America’s future here in the trenches of the United States Senate,” he said in a statement released by his senate campaign organization.

“For months now, my wife Kimberley and I have received encouragement from family, friends, colleagues, and supporters from across South Dakota and the country to run for the presidency of the United States. We have appreciated hearing their concerns about where the country is headed and their hopes for a new direction,” he said.

According to Thune his decision making process

“involved lots of prayer,” and throughout it he and his family were “reminded of the importance of being in the arena, of being in the fight.”

The Senator explained why he chose to focus on his senate responsibilities rather than take on new ones by stating;

“There is a battle to be waged over what kind of country we are going to leave our children and grandchildren and that battle is happening now in Washington, not two years from now,” he said, explaining why he was choosing to focus on his current job, rather than seeking a new one.

Within the last month, John Thune has become the second major possible contender for President to decide against challenging President Obama in next years election. Just a few weeks ago, Indiana Congressman Mike Pence was the first recent top tier name to decline a run for the Republican presidential nomination. Pence is said to have decided to run for Governor of Indiana instead. Incumbent Governor Mitch Daniels is termed limited and at the moment he has said he will make his own decision about a potential run for President in April, when his states legislative session is over.

Thune’s decision not to run for the Republican presidential nomination, continues to leave lots of room for a favorite of social conservatives to occupy in the still developing field. Pence was seen a favorite among the socially conservative G.O.P. base and Thune was viewed as a possible acceptable alternative. Thune’s absence from the race leaves hope for others like Michele Bachmann and boosts the fortunes of people like Herman Cain, Mike Huckabee and even Sarah Palin, if they were to run.

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Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney: Who Will Step Up First?

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Depending on which poll you read and what day it is on you can see a wide variety in data of who is leading the potential Republican field for the 2012 nomination. Some polls have shown Mitt Romney with a small lead over Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. Others have Huckabee on top with a slight gap between himself, Romney and Palin. Sometimes former Speaker Newt Gingrich appears as has Mitch Daniels, Ron Paul and various other potential candidates. The only consistency appears to be that Huck, Sarah and Mitt appear at the top almost every time.

So the question remains – Who will break out of the pack when the official announcements begin to show up on Twitter? Moderates are mostly for Romney, and Conservatives are split on Huckabee and Palin. However, Huckabee backers support Sarah Palin if he does not run and vice-versa with Sarah Palin’s supporters. Which means they both better hope either one of them does not run for President. However in the large scheme of things, this is wide open. Though Romney, Palin and Huckabee are frontrunners now, it could all change once someone announces their run.

After CPAC we may begin to see some new names and faces appear such as John Thune, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour and Mitch Daniels. Rick Santorum cannot be discounted as well as little known Herman Cain who made a splash at the conservative conference.

If one of the big three makes an announcement soon it could hamper the ability of some of the lesser knows to get their name out through the media frenzy that is likely to follow especially if that person is Sarah Palin. We may not know how the candidates will play their hands and how voters will react but one thing we do know is that the early indications point to Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney as maintaining a firm grasp on the minds of potential voters.

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New Polls in Iowa and New Hampshire Make Nothing Very Clear

Bookmark and Share Two new Strategic National polls offer results from Iowa and New Hampshire that mirror other similar surveys.

Of 410 Iowans who are described as typical caucus voters, former Governor Mike Huckabee is ahead of his closest possible rival, Mitt Romney, by 9.02%.

Complete poll results were as follows:

  1. Mike Huckabee 27.56%
  2. Mitt Romney 18.54%
  3. Undecided 17.56%
  4. Sarah Palin 12.44%
  5. Newt Gingrich 12.20%
  6. Tim Pawlenty 4.39%
  7. Michele Bachmann 3.66%
  8. John Thune 1.95%
  9. Rick Santorum 0.98%
  10. Other/Undecided 0.49%
  11. Haley Barbour 0.24%

In New Hampshire a random sample of 940 Republican primary voters offered a result that was almost as equally lopsided between the first and second place finishers as Iowa’s results were, but here it is Romney who takes the lead. The New Hampshire poll played out like this:

  1. Mitt Romney 33.51%
  2. Mike Huckabee 13.83%
  3. Sarah Palin 12.77%
  4. Newt Gingrich 8.62%
  5. Tim Pawlenty 5.21%
  6. Mitch Daniels 1.60%
  7. Rick Santorum 1.28%
  8. Haley Barbour 0.96%
  9. John Thune 0.21%
  10. Other/Undecided 22.02%

Both polls do little more than confirm what we already knew. What we don’t know though is who Iowa and New Hampshire voters will actually be splitting their votes between when it is time to vote and caucus. While we are more than certain that Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty will be running, and pretty sure people like Fred Karger and Rick Santorum are running, we do not know with any certainty if Mike Huckabee or any of the other often mentioned names are running. Furthermore, given the countless number of variables, including who will or wont be in the race and the great potential that the campaigns of many potential candidates have, it would be naive to assume that anyone who is a frontrunner at this moment, will be the winner a year from now.

However, when it comes to New Hampshire and Iowa and Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, a combination of name recognition from their 2008 presidential runs and demographics, Romney and Huckabee are where they should be in New Hampshire and Iowa and are naturals to win those state respectively.

If they did win in these tow states, the Republican presidential nomination contest is likely to be wide open well into the primary and caucus season.

Following Iowa and New Hampshire are Nevada and South Carolina. Here too a split decision is as natural as it is in the results of Iowa and New Hampshire. Demographics and established name recognition make Nevada a natural for Romney to win and South Carolina a natural for Huckabee to take. Of course with South Carolina being more of a sign of how the South goes than Nevada is of the way the West goes, Huckabee’s win in South Carolina would put him in a much better position for him than Romney.

South Carolina is where Romney has to draw his wall of fire. It is where he has to establish the “Big Mo” that George H. W. Bush thought he had behind him in the 1980 primaries against Ronald Reagan.

Of course as noted in previous White House 2012 posts, if enough candidates who are attractive to the evangelical vote, jump into the race, Romney could be the beneficiary and have the chance to walk right up the middle.

For now though, it really is too early to base any wagers on any of these polls. None of the potential candidates campaigns can be underestimated and there are so many possible players at the moment that it is too difficult to predict which way any one demographic or state will fall.

If Newt Gingrich were to run, not only will his command of the issues be undeniably impressive, but between the unique and numerous ideas he brings to the table, combined with a personality that will surprise many and the ability to reshape his image, he could quickly become an appealing figure to many, including evangelicals and TEA Party energized people.

If Sarah Palin were to run, her ability to campaign in a way that can broaden her base should not be underestimated and given the enthusiastic support that she already has from a loyal base of voters, such an expansion of her base could effect the primaries and caucuses profoundly.

But many other names also have the potential to establish powerfully effective campaigns that can attract the attention and support of any combination of influential wings of the G.O.P.. Texas Governor Rick Perry is building a solid foundation for a possible campaign that highlights states rights which appeals to TEA Party priorities. He has also built a record around anti-abortion measures and other social issues that are attractive to evangelicals and social conservatives. And on economic issues, his tax cuts, spending cuts and jobs record in the Lone Star State, appeal to all wings of the Republican Party.

Indiana’s Mitch Daniel’s is another figure whom could take the Party by storm. His American Heartland appeal and economic prowess will shine brighter than most. The entry of Mississippi’s Haley Barbour could quickly round up a large portion of the G.O.P. inner circle, raise oodles of money, count on many favors owed to him, significantly coalesce Southern support and dilute Huckabee’s Southern strength, while also surprising people with his own strategic abilities and appeal to conservatives in all four corners of the country.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota will be force to a contend with if he runs. While the addition of his name in to the field may not initially turn the race on its ear, he will quickly gain steam. Then there are other names like Rick Santorum and Mike Pence. All of these names will sharply divide the conservative vote, thereby give people like Tim Pawlenty, as well as Mitt Romney and maybe even Rudy Giuliani a better shot at racking high delegate counts.

And through it all may also be the likes of libertarians Ron Paul and former new Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as well as those dark horse candidates, such as Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, and maybe even Donald Trump.

Right now, all that we can be sure of is that while some names like Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and outsider Fred Karger have all but made their campaigns official, everyone else is watching what each of the other names are doing. And until people like Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, John Thune and Sarah Palin, make up their minds, people like Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Rudy Giuliani, Jon Huntsman and more, will be waiting to make up their own minds.

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John Thune Makes The Case For Republicans in 2010

In the closing weeks of the 2010 Midterm elections, Republicans have turned to South Dakota Senator and potential 2012 Republican candidate for President, John Thune to delivery the response to the President’s weekly national address.

In it, Thune discusses how he has cometo see that most Americans would prefer that the President tried to do something to create jobs for Americans rather than campaigning for Democrats in Congress to keep theirs. He further drives the case for Republicans home as he adds“the Obama Experiment has failed,” and citesthealmost 10 percent unemployment rate and rising health care premiums, all while “the president and his Democrat allies in Congress pushed through their $814 billion stimulus bill,” and a healthcare reform bill that was suppose to solve all these problems.

Thune Admits He’s Looking To Run For President in 2012

Official photograph of John Thune, U.S. Senator.

South Dakota Senator John Thune

Senator Thune admits he is seriously considering a run.

Also admits that Palin will be a factor in his decision.

Bookmark and Share   While the 49 year old Senator from South Dakota is barnstorming the nation to help get a new generation of Republicans elected in 2010, and running in his own reelection campaign, he recently admitted to reporters that he has been discussing the matter of running for President in 2012 with his wife and is seriously considering it.

According to Thune;

“I’d be less than honest if I said I hadn’t thought about it, based upon the amount of encouragement that I’ve received from people across South Dakota and my colleagues here in the Senate and people across the country,” Thune said during a conference call with reporters.

The Senator added;

“It’s something obviously, if you’re interested in maximizing your opportunities to make a difference and to serve, you take a look at,”

Thune stated that he will make a final decision sometime in 2011.

In separate interview, he also made it clear that if Sarah Palin were to run, her entry into the nomination battle would definitely influence his decision.   Thune told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer;

“She is someone who has a tremendous following out there, particularly in some of the early states,”

Thune made it clear that either way,  he will  not be making his decision to run until sometime early next year, but he conceded that the possibility of a Palin run will be a major factor in that decision.  “I think that if she were to get into the race, it would clearly change the equation for a lot of people,” he said.

In the meantime though, Thune is certainly beginning to fulfill the prerequisites for a run.

While not focusing in on Iowa and New Hampshire, in his quest to help congressional candidates get elected this November, he has so far traveled to Ohio, California, Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas and in the closing weeks of the campaign cycle, will be visiting several more states.

Thune’s ability to busily campaign for others and step up his name ID outside of South Dakota, while he is up for reelection in South Dakota, is a but unusual but in his case, very understandable.

Due to his popularity back home, John Thune finds himself in the unique position of being only the third Republican to run unopposed for the body since the establishment of direct elections for Senators in 1913.  But the lack of any opposition has not prevented Thune from campaigning for himself in South Dakota, extensively and aggressively.

He has been making his rounds, speaking to voters and spreading his free market, limited government, fiscal responsibility and family values messages. And to help get his message out further, he has punctuated it by spending more than $4.4 million in his opponent less race.  And as of his last financial report, he still has more than $6.9 million in cash on hand to spend however he sees fit.

If Thune is truly considering a run in 2012, he will have to start making moves in that direction well before he announces his decision to do so. Among those moves will be the need to start looking and sounding more Presidential. That will require his getting in the forefront of some of the hot button issues of the day, like spending and the deficit. In August, Thune began to move in that direction when he publicized his own commonsense deficit reduction plan . (See the video below to hear that plan in Thune’s own words). But that will not be enough to make it in what will be a crowded early field of Republican contenders. To survive any early primaries and caucuses, the Senator must carve out his own unique theme and national message, one that presents fresh ideas to old problems and does so in a way that the electorate will see as more appealing than the solutions that frontrunners like Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour will be offering.

In some ways Thune could have a leg up on in the contest for the Republican nomination. His positions on issues like gay marriage and abortione have built him a solid base within the evangelical community, and he is appealing to TEA Party and Libertarians who appreciate his free market values, pro-gun rights, anti-tax message. Yet Thune hardly comes off as an extremist and with his friendly demeanor, small town-America, Mid-West charm and appeal, the right message could just make him a top tier candidate. But for that to be possible, John Thune will have to make the decision to run, sooner rather than later. He won’t have to make that decision public right away, but he has a lot of work to do in distinguishing himself and maneuvering for the race, long before he announces.

 

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Is John Thune Running for Reelection or the White House?

Official photograph of John Thune, U.S. Senator.

South Dakota Senator John Thune

Bookmark and Share  In 2004, John Thune ran for the United States Senate and defeated the U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Democrat Tom Daschle. It was his second run for the office. In 2002, he graciously conceded that election to incumbent Tim Johnson after Democrats involved themselves in a cash for votes scandal on South Dakota Indian reservations. Out of a total of 337,501 votes cast in that race, the illegally purchased votes helped to account for what was an ever so slight lead for Johnson of 524 votes or 0.15%. But two years later, Thune’s political campaigning turned those results around as he beat the powerful Senate Minority Leader. In that election, with 391,118 votes cast, 53,687 more votes than in 2002, Thune won a decisive plurality, besting Daschle by 4,508 votes or 51% of the vote.

Now, six years later, Thune is up for reelection and his opponent is no one.

After six years in the Senate and a conservative record that often receives a 100% ACU rating, Thune has become an impressive figure. And in a state where voters are far from trending Democrat during these Obama years, Democrats have failed to find anyone who is willing to oppose Thune andhave failed successfully  to urge anyone to even wage a token challenge to Thune,

That  lack of Democrat Party leadership and ideological strength has made it possible for Thune to be one of those rare candidates who can take time campaigning for others in not only his own state, but in other states as well. He most recently spent time in Arkansas campaigning and raising money in Arkansas for Republican senate candidate John Boozman who is running against politically wounded, incumbent Democrat, Blanche Lincoln.

But while John Thune’s own reelection remains uncontested, he is certainly not ignoring his place on the ballot this November. To date he has spent over $4.6 million in his opponentless race for reelection. Given the relatively small population of South Dakota and the fact that there is no real race, this is a pretty significant amount of money to spend, especially when you consider that there is still little more than 2 months to go till Election Day. So far, of the expected turnout, John Thune’s campaign expenditures it amounts to about $13.65 per voter.

Of course, this spending and out of state campaigning could be more for 2012 than 2010.

Thune could be actually trying to kill two birds with one stone as he uses his senate reeelction bid to  prepare for a run at the White House or for the number two spot on a Republican presidential ticket. The only hint that could contradict this conclusion is the level of activity in John Thune’s leadership PAC, the Heartland Values PAC. In this election cycle, the last reported total amount of contributions it has made to other candidates totals $185,500, a number which pales in comparison to other Republican presidential contenders like Palin, Romney and Pawlenty.

In general though, John Thune must be watched. Depending on who runs and the combination of those running in 2012, John Thune could be a very viable candidate for the Republican nomination and he is certainly playing his cards right. With relative youth providing some wind at his back, if he does not go for the nomination in 2012, his potential success at a run for the White House in in 2016 or 2020, could rely heavily on what he does in 2012 and how he handles the race.

 

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