Someone You Should Know: A Day In The Life Of Sen. John Thune

WASHINGTON, D.C. – South Dakota senator John Thune is no stranger to the national spotlight. The Murdo native can be seen on the frontlines of major legislation coming down from Capitol Hill.

An office in the Dirksen Senate building in our nation’s capitol is the central hub for the third-ranking Republican.

But for Thune, it’s still missing something.

“This is where the work is, this will never be home for me. I like my wide open space,” said Thune in his Washington, D.C. office.

Still, there are sights around the office that help steer him that direction.

“I try and remind myself when I’m here in Washington of all the things that I’m missing back home, like the buffalo and pheasants and the things that I think really make our part of the country a special place to live,” said Thune.

However, time inside his office is few and far between. For example, a good amount of his time is spent in the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where Thune serves as chairman.

“Walk into that room and beating the gavel and the things that we deal with, those are really just wonderful opportunities,” he said.

Near all of Thune’s most visited rooms are smaller offices, in case of a scheduled meeting during one of his committees, for example.

But his job in Washington does come with pieces of home. Among the faces of a black and white photo are relatives of the senator – his grandfather, Nicolai and his great uncle, Matt. Pictures of his family can be found around each of his several offices, reminding him about a sobering sacrifice his time in the capitol has cost.

“I wish they could’ve made more trips out here,” said Thune. “My wife does come out periodically and spend some time out here with me while we’re in session. But the family lives in South Dakota and we really keep that our center of gravity.”

But it’s a team commitment by the Thune family, helping him remain focused on what his job entails.

“Walking out onto the floor of the United States Senate to cast a vote – I mean what a consequential, what a wonderful privilege and opportunity. You should never forget the responsibility you’ve been trusted with by the people of South Dakota, the privilege you have to represent their interests here.”

While “team” may not be the word the public would use to describe the current climate in D.C., Thune contends differently. Conflicting opinions do exist, but he says camaraderie also exists in the Capitol.

“I start my mornings here in the Senate gym with a lot of democratic senators,” said Thune. “Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader from New York, is there every morning and we talk about things from our legislative agenda and difference and things we’re trying to get done. But we also have the opportunity to talk about lighter stuff.”

Stepping outside the capitol, you can find one of Senator Thune’s favorite spots – the Speaker’s Balcony.

“There’s so much history around that spot,” he said. “It overlooks where the Presidents take the oath of office and it’s a great place to take photographs because you can get the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.”

Looking out at all of the historical sites, Thune still has to pinch himself to avoid taking it for granted.

“When you walk out the steps of the United States Senate and you look out there and see the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court – if you’re not struck with a sense of romantic patriotism, maybe you’ve been here too long.”