For a state that's one of the most sparsely populated in America, South Dakota politicians are grabbing a lot of headlines lately.

For the past several weeks, Governor Kristi Noem's name has been in the news as one of the handful of potential running mates for former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election.

Now, the senior member of the Mount Rushmore State's congressional delegation finds himself under consideration for one of the top spots in the United States Senate.

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Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
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Senator John Thune, the number-two Republican in the Senate for the past five years, is now on a shortlist of potential replacements for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell as Minority Leader after McConnell announced Wednesday (February 28) that he is stepping down as the Republican leader in November.

Thune was first elected to the Senate in 2005 after serving in the House of Representatives from 1997 to 2003.

The Murdo native is widely speculated to be one of five Republicans being considered to succeed McConnell. The other four are:

  • Senator John Cornyn (Texas)
  • Senator John Barrasso (Wyoming)
  • Senator Tom Cotton (Arkansas)
  • Senator Rick Scott (Florida)

If Thune is picked to take over as Minority Leader, he would be just the second South Dakota politician to secure the post.

Democrat Tom Daschle was the Minority Leader in the Senate from 1997 to 2001 and again from 2003 to 2005. In between, Daschle served as Senate Majority Leader during the 104th Congress (1995-1997).

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