Legislator Is First to Seek Johnson’s Senate Seat

Posted July 10, 2007 at 10:44am

State Rep. Joel Dykstra last week became the first major Republican to embrace the tough task of challenging Sen. Tim Johnson (D) in 2008.

Johnson has been recovering from a stroke he suffered in mid-December and remains popular in South Dakota despite the state’s Republican bent.

The Senator has continued to raise money for his 2008 re-election bid with the help of his Democratic colleagues — despite the fact that he has yet to return to work since suffering from a brain hemorrhage.

Republicans for months have been wary of criticizing Johnson, so as not to appear insensitive to his medical condition. Dykstra’s official campaign news release did not appear to break with that strategy and was absent the usual critique of an incumbent that routinely accompanies such announcements.

“Everyone can see that Washington is not working and our government institutions are in crisis right now,” Dykstra said in a statement.

The Republican Party is hoping to lure popular Gov. Mike Rounds (R) into the race, but observers of South Dakota politics say he doesn’t have a huge desire to come to Washington, D.C., and add that he is unlikely to enter the race if Johnson stands for re-election. Most Republicans probably would defer to Rounds if he ran.
— David M. Drucker