It seems very likely John Thune will become a candidate for the Republican nomination for President.
JRT has been carefully laying the groundwork for a Presidential for campaign since soon after the 2008 general election. He has enhanced his presence among Republican activists and through his ecampaign and a series of online petition signing please enhanced his already considerable database of online contacts. It is important to note that the Thune organization already had a nationwide network of support as a result of the 2004 campaign against every GOP activist’s arc enemy Tom Daschle.
The 2004 defeat of the Senate Majority Leader raised Thune’s status as a giant killer. During the post 2004 election, Senator Thune’s exposure to Republican activists was further enhanced by high profile speeches across the country at Republican fundraising dinners.
It helped Thune’s stature when he was elevated to the #4 GOP leadership post, the Senate Republican Policy Committee, position when Sen. John Ensign (Nevada) embarrassed himself and had to resign.
For his 2010 re elect effort he hired a recognized top notch campaign manager and put in place a first rate finance and ecampaign infrastructure.
When the petition filing deadline in June of 2010 passed and finding himself without opposition, Thune was freed up to campaign nationwide on behalf of other Republican candidates. This obviously is very desirable in that it enables a prospective Presidential candidate to meet activists and build a national network.
Having $7 million in the bank and not having to spend it on a November campaign doesn’t hurt either. $7 million is a nice nest egg to begin a national primary campaign.
Certainly candidate John Thune has some advantage in that the campaign begins in Iowa. He shares a media market (Sioux Falls and Sioux City) with northwestern Iowa. He understands Agriculture, talks Midwest, and is a Champion of Ethanol. (Thune’s challenge maybe to downplay expectations in Iowa but that can wait for another look in January of next year should he become a candidate.) While Thune is unknown among the National electorate he is very well known among the GOP activists whose help he will need to organize the requisite get out the vote campaigns in the States.
John Thune has said he will make a decision by the end of this month. The questions I believe he is considering are:
Can I make a difference in leading the Nation?
Is this the right thing to do for me and my family?
Can I Win? And the subset, can I raise the requisite campaign War Chest?
How will it affect my political standing in South Dakota (campaigning vs.spending time representing South Dakota)?
John Thune is an excellent political strategist, thoughtful, careful, and determined. He has a history of making excellent decisions. This is not a decision he will make driven solely by power or ego.
Thune has several natural advantages (and one historical disadvantage – U S Senators don’t fair well – 2008 a modern historical exception) working for him in a Republican battle royal. As a candidate he is physically attractive, he is articulate and he is studied on the issues. His name identification as indicated earlier is low but not with those that count at this point. As yes he has that $7 million in seed money and I believe the skeleton of nationwide organization ready to start asking.
Just a note on who is John Thune. If you checked his Senate voting record, I think you will find that he is rated at the top or near top in being the most Conservative. That being said, as a Federal Legislator he has worked very hard to deliver for his constituents.
John Thune believes in Government. It is often forgotten that he worked for 4 years in the federal bureaucracy at the Small Business Administration, worked as Director of the South Dakota Division of Railroads, and for several years (4 or more I think) as the Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist for the South Dakota Municipal League.
He has laid the groundwork. Will he do it? The answer seems to be YES!
Just reading the tea leaves – Friday a week ago he spoke at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), most Prexy want-to-bees did. But what was unusual was, it was reported that his wife Kimberly went to Washington for the speech (and I assume for the purpose so that John Thune could introduce her). I do not think she would have flown in for the speech if he were not planning on a Presidential run. I also note an interesting article in last weeks in the Wall Street Journal. Finally I heard a rumor from a credible source that there John Thune will be in Murdo next week. Maybe his just going to the Pioneer Auto Museum but I’ll leave it to others to connect the dots.
John Thune can be successful. He has the skills to run a nationwide campaign and having a President from South Dakota would be good for America and South Dakota (Yes it is a values thing). I could also like Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and Hoosier Gov. Mitch Daniels and think I could grow to like a Mitt Romney.
Finally, John Thune is the only candidate that has an excellent exit strategy. Running a first class campaign with even modest success would raise national awareness and truly make him a National “Player.” That would leave several doors open to him – a Vice Presidential nomination, a future run for President in 2016 or 2020 depending on the 2012 outcome and even more importantly could put him in line to succeed GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell when the time comes.
For John Thune the future is NOW.