John Randolph Thune (born January 7, 1961) is the junior U.S. Senator from South Dakota and a member of the Republican Party. He previously served as a U.S. Representative for South Dakota's At-large congressional district.
Born and raised in South Dakota, Thune attended college at Biola University, a small Evangelical Christian school in California before returning to his home state to obtain an MBA at the University of South Dakota. He worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator James Abdnor and served in the Reagan Administration in the Small Business Administration, before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1996. After three terms in the House, he unsuccessfully challenged Democrat Tim Johnson in the U.S. Senate race in 2002, losing by a mere 524 votes (0.15%). Thune was elected to the Senate two years later, defeating the incumbent Democrat, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1996, Thune was elected to South Dakota's at-large seat in the United States House of Representatives; he won reelection in 1998 and in 2000 was reelected with over 70% of the vote. Thune supported term limits and promised to serve no more than three terms in the House.
Keeping his pledge, Thune instead ran for the United States Senate, challenging Senator Tim Johnson in 2002, and losing by 524 votes (0.15%).
Following his 2002 loss to Tim Johnson, Thune challenged Tom Daschle—then the United States Senate Minority Leader and leader of the Senate Democrats--in the 2004 elections. On November 2, 2004, Thune defeated Daschle by 4,508 votes, winning 51% of the vote and became a well-known Republican figure in the U.S. Senate. Daschle's loss was the first ousting of a incumbent Floor Leader since 1952, when Arizona Senator Ernest McFarland lost his seat to Barry Goldwater.
Thune faced no Democratic or other opposition for his U.S. Senate seat in 2010, and thus won re-election.
Vice Presidential and Presidential Speculation
Prior to the selection of Sarah Palin, Thune was mentioned as a possible Vice Presidential pick for Republican Presumptive Nominee John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Thune publicly played down the speculation. According to one source, McCain was looking for a "game changer" and did not believe that Thune would have a "game-changing" effect on the campaign. In February 2011, Politico noted that "Thune isn’t raising money like he’s running for president," and that "while Thune has been considering a presidential bid, he hasn’t set foot in any of the early states and hasn’t a
ggressively courted consultants or tried to build infrastructure." On February 22, 2011 Thune announced he would not run in the presidential election in 2011.