Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota will seek a fourth term this year, he announced Saturday — weeks after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell publicly pressed him to resist the temptation to retire.
“I’ve always promised that I would do the work, even when it was hard, uncomfortable or unpopular. That work continues,” Thune said in a statement he released on Twitter.
“After careful consideration and prayer, and with the support of my family, I’m asking South Dakotans for the opportunity to continue serving them in the US Senate,” he added.
As Senate minority whip, the 61-year-old Thune is McConnell’s second in command — and widely seen as his heir apparent.
But in December, Thune told the Black Hills Pioneer that his wife Kimberly was lobbying him to leave Washington behind after 24 years as a congressman and senator.
“She is done with it,” he said.
That set off alarm bells for McConnell, who hopes to wrest Senate control away from the Democrats in this year’s midterm elections.
“He’s done a great job as a whip,” McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt last month. “It would be a real setback for the country and for our party if he retires, and I certainly hope he won’t.”
Thune is a heavy favorite to hold his seat in deep-red South Dakota despite the enmity of former President Donald Trump, who blasted him in 2020 for his unwillingness to challenge the Electoral College results of the presidential election.
Trump has unsuccessfully urged South Dakota’s GOP governor, Kristi Noem, to mount a primary challenge against Thune.
In 2016, Thune faced no Republican primary opposition and was re-elected with an overwhelming 72 percent of the vote against a little-known Democrat.