One of the great things

One of the great things about Power Line is the emails we get from readers. We try to reply to as many as we can, and we hope you’ll keep sending in your comments. We have just gotten in several extremely interesting emails, one of which relates to the current political situation in South Dakota. Our reader, who is very well connected in South Dakota politics, says that jockeying for the 2004 Senate race is already underway. John Thune, he says, is not licking his wounds, but is actively planning for the future, in “full combat mode.” He has been offered a high position in the Administration but will probably decline it, preferring to make some money by lobbying for a couple of years, then try for Daschle’s Senate seat whether Daschle retires or not. His competition for the nomination will, of course, be Bill Janklow. Janklow has been the most popular politician in South Dakota for twenty years, but our reader nevertheless thinks Thune can beat him for the nomination. He believes President Bush will support Thune, not only out of loyalty–Thune gave up his House seat to run against Tim Johnson, rather than for Governor, at the request of the White House–but also because Thune is viewed as a more loyal and reliable Republican. He is also, of course, much younger. Janklow’s personal and political alliance with Tom Daschle served him well when he was Governor, but will be a liability (in Republican circles, anyway) when he runs for Daschle’s seat. And, while Janklow is very able and has been tremendously popular, he also has the highest negatives of any South Dakota politician. Can Thune win if Daschle runs for re-election? I think so. Daschle’s strength has been his ability to bring home the bacon for South Dakotans. As Minority Leader, that ability will be much diminished. He will increasingly be seen as a querulous and ineffective obstructor of President Bush’s policies, which are popular in South Dakota. And in two years, the President will be on the ballot.

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