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Former Lt. Gov. Steve Kirby (R) said Tuesday that he was delaying a planned announcement on whether he will challenge Sen. Tim Johnson (D) this fall because consultations with supporters were taking longer than he originally expected.

Kirby credited attacks leveled at him by Johnson’s campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee with creating an outpouring of phone calls and e-mails from supporters that he feels obliged to answer before coming to a decision on whether to run.

“I didn’t foresee the groundswell of contacts and interested people,” Kirby said in a brief telephone interview.

Kirby was appointed lieutenant governor in 1993 and served two years after his predecessor took over as governor upon the death of then-Gov. George Mickelson (R). In 2002, Kirby lost a three-way gubernatorial primary.

His entrance into the race could turn Johnson’s re-election bid into a competitive contest, although a DSCC poll last week that showed the Senator up on Kirby by 51 points suggests the former lieutenant governor might have a steep hill to climb.
— David M. Drucker

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