Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) has not yet committed to reelection as the Republican Party gears up to battle for majority status in the upper chamber in 2022.
Unlike some of his colleagues, including Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and John Boozman (R-AR), the latter of whom confirmed his reelection bid this month, Thune has yet to announce his intention to seek reelection 2022, sparking speculation he is considering an exit.
Thune told Politico in a Wednesday interview he believes campaigns often start too early, but he did not appear to indicate if he was leaning one way or another.
“In this day and age, these campaigns are so long. And I think they start way too early,” Thune told the outlet. “We’re moving forward doing all the things that you do. And at some point, we’ll make everything official.”
Politico likened Thune’s tone to “two GOP senators, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio, who sent all the right signals about running again — until they bowed out,” though the outlet noted that colleagues tend to believe the South Dakota senator will seek reelection “given his still-bright future in the party and $13 million campaign stash.”
The decision is a significant one, as five GOP senators have already announced their intention to retire — a factor Thune acknowledged.
“We’re losing a ton of talent, a ton of experience and expertise. And so, you know, you hate to see quality people leave. And if the Democrats pursue the course they’re on right now and try and do everything by pure majority rule, obviously, it won’t be a fun place to be,” Thune told the outlet.
“It’s probably as challenging today as it’s ever been, given the political environment,” he added.
Former President Donald Trump will certainly play a role in the midterms as he intends to back allies and endorse key challengers of his GOP foes. Thune made the former president’s list in December.
“Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, ‘Mitch’s boy’, should just let it play out,” Trump tweeted on December 22, adding “South Dakota doesn’t like weakness” and declaring his political career over.
“He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!” Trump exclaimed.
However, Thune said the Trump factor is not something he is “weighing heavily one way or the other.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a Trump ally, said he is not sure what Trump will do in terms of listing our primary endorsements but expressed hope that he will “look closely at Sen. Thune.”
“He’s a great guy. It just matters what [Thune] wants to do. I hope he runs. I think he’s been a great senator,” Graham remarked.
Five GOP senators, Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Roy Blunt (R-MO), are not seeking reelection. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) also remain undecided. Grassley, 87, intends to make a final decision in the fall.