U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) will not seek reelection in 2014, presenting the Republican party with a prime opportunity to pick up a seat.
How prime? “Republican” nominee Mitt Romney won South Dakota by 18 percentage points, people.
First elected in 1996, Johnson withstood a challenge from then-U.S. Rep. John Thune in 2002. After surviving a bursting blood vessel in his brain in 2006, he easily won reelection in 2008. He currently serves as head of the Senate Banking Committee, and has been a loyal ally of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Johnson is the fifth Democrat – and seventh Senator – to announce his retirement in 2014. Democrats Tom Harkin (Iowa), Carl Levin (Michigan), Frank Lautenburg (New Jersey) and Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia) are all stepping down – as are Republicans Saxby Chambliss (Georgia) and Mike Johanns (Nebraska).
The GOP – such as it is – needs to pick up six seats to gain a majority in the Senate. Thirty-five seats are up for grabs this go-round – 21 of which are held by Democrats.
Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds has already announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination for this seat, while hottie Congresswoman Kristi Noem is also mulling a bid. Meanwhile Johnson’s son – a U.S. Attorney in South Dakota – could run for the Democratic nomination.