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SD Political Race Gets Natl. Attention

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A South Dakota political race is getting national attention.

In Washington, Politico, an online newspaper, published a front-page article titled  “GOP sees nepotism threat in South Dakota.”

The article talked about whether U.S. Senator Tim Johnson will announce his retirement this month and if his son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, would jump in the race to take his seat, which is raising some questions on Capitol Hill.

"This race is going to be the focus for the entire 2014 election season," said Wanless.

Emily Wanless is a political science assistant professor at Augustana College.

Wanless said if U.S. Senator Tim Johnson steps down and his son wins the race to fill his seat, it would make history.

"If that were to be the case, it would be the sixth time ever that a Senator's son has replaced his father," said Wanless.

Political family traditions have been around for years, such as the Kennedys, Bush’s and Roosevelts, however, this isn't always favored upon.

Some Republicans in Washington have claimed nepotism in Johnson's case, saying the father and son are trying to create a family dynasty in the Senate Seat.

A seat Republicans stand to gain, with the hope to get the majority again, which is competitive party interaction, Wanless finds intriguing.

"South Dakota politics has always had a fascinating history. The fact that it trends Republican but yet seems to have such a lock on a Democratic seat," said Wanless.

As of right now, Former Governor Mike Rounds, is the only confirmed Republican candidate in the 2014 Senate race.

A possible second candidate is U.S. Representative Kristi Noem.

For the Democrats, some people claim former Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin would be better suited to fill Senator Johnson's seat, given her past of succeeding in a state wide campaign and because of her name recognition.

However, name recognition favors Brendan Johnson as well.

"Part of the benefit for him is his name, right, because he's got the name Johnson, which is so popular in this state, but it also has a hindrance because people will automatically assume he's running because his father was holding this seat," said Wanless.

South Dakotans will know more about who the top contenders are, once Senator Johnson determines his candidacy soon.

"This is definitely worthy of National attention and I think this is a great race to follow," said Wanless.

Ironically, back in 2002, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin was attacked for nepotism when she ran for the house.

She lost the race, but came back to congress after a 2004 special election.

Herseth's grandfather was governor and her father ran for governor in 1986.

According to the article, Senator Johnson is expected to make his announcement this spring, even as early as this month.
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