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SD Dems React To Sen. Johnson's Retirement

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Now that Senator Tim Johnson has announced his retirement, the open seat in the Senate is up for grabs and Democrats are fighting to keep their seat and majority in the Senate.

On Tuesday night, the Democrats said they expected the Senator's decision to step down, leaving the question of who will be Johnson’s successor.

"It's very bittersweet, but it's not surprising," said Nesselhuf.

South Dakota Democratic Chairman, Ben Nesselhuf, said he grew up politically on the legend of Senator Tim Johnson and said he will treasure his friendship with the Senator long after Johnson’s retirement.

"He brought such a South Dakota attitude to Washington. He is the essence of a Midwestern, Scandinavian, fairly shy, camera shy, but he put his head down and he worked hard," said Nesselhuf.

With Senator Johnson on his way out, Nesselhuf said the timetable to find potential Democratic candidates would start to speed up.

He has his predictions for candidates, such as Senator Johnson's son, United States Attorney, Brendan Johnson.

"He's a lot like his father, he's a hard worker, he's a policy want, he digs into the details,” said Nesselhuf.

He also said former Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, is at the top of the line for potential candidates and believes she would be the favorite going in to any General Election.

"Brings an incredible network to the table as well as established credentials, she's a good moderate," said Nesselhuf.

With an open Senate seat up for grabs and both the Republican and Democratic parties hoping to be the majority, Nesselhuf said the upcoming 2014 race would be one to remember.

"Regardless of whether or not Johnson was going to retire, this was going to be a top race and it's going to absolutely still be that," said Nesselhuf.

36 out of the 100 Senate seats are up for election in 2014, 22 are held by the Democrats and 14 by the Republicans.

Nesselhuf said he's not worried about the Republicans taking over the majority because a lot of the open seats are in safe Democratic districts.

Former Governor Mike Rounds is the only Republican candidate so far.
Rounds made his announcement to run last October.
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