Brendan Johnson isn’t running for anything.
Not the Senate. Or the House. Or governor, attorney general or anything else. Not yet, anyway.
After talking with him Wednesday, I am clear on that. He remains consistent that as South Dakota’s U.S. attorney, he enjoys his work, and is not ready to make an announcement that he is entering the political field his father is leaving.
Will he jump into a race? Maybe, maybe not. A draft Brendan committee has been formed, and he is aware of that.
But one thing Brendan wanted to make clear: All the political palavering that he and his father are in a feud with Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is false.
“That is not true at all. I like and admire Stephanie,” he said. “I have all the respect in the world for her.”
Herseth Sandlin has expressed admiration for Tim Johnson repeatedly, and did so again on Tuesday, when South Dakota’s senior senator made it official: He won’t run in 2014.
“Today is Senator Johnson’s day, a day to reflect on his extraordinary service to the state of South Dakota. And while I’ve appreciated the encouragement I’ve received, I haven’t focused on future political opportunities,” she said. “Rather, like countless others, today I’m focused on Tim.”
Now, this will surely disappoint the GOP and its online troops, who are eager to stir up a battle between the two. And it still may happen if they set their sights on the same race, and wind up in a Democratic primary.
SD’s Democrats are trying to create the same fracas between former Gov. Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem. They are hoping those two end up in a squabble and a primary.
Rounds and Noem have also said they like and admire each other. That doesn’t mean they won’t end up battling for the Senate nomination in 14 months.
Right now, Rounds said he’s running for the Senate seat Tim Johnson is vacating. Noem is pondering her options, Herseth Sandlin hasn’t indicated what, if anything, she will run for in 2014. And Brendan Johnson is prohibited from talking politics publicly.
Things could change soon. Names, and elbows could be thrown. But right now, Brendan Johnson says don’t believe the hype.
The party officials, the partisan bloggers, the letter-writers and party activists, are acting like kids in the school yard: They are egging the potential opponents on. Will it work?
It’s also well worth noting that in March 2009, no one was discussing state Rep. Kristi Noem of rural Castlewood as South Dakota’s next member of Congress. A surprise candidate could emerge in either or both parties.