Last week Senator M. Michael Rounds endorsed fellow Senator Tim Scott for President. Now the senior half of South Dakota’s Senate team is going to South Carolina today to cheer Scott’s formal announcement of his bid to beat Trump:
Sen. John Thune, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, is endorsing the presidential campaign of Sen. Tim Scott, according to a person familiar with his plans.
…Thune is making good on his hopes of turning the GOP away from Trump and presenting a more forward-looking vision for the party. Thune recoiled from Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, famously declaring that his election challenge would go down on the Senate floor like a “shot dog.” That drew a political threat from Trump, but Thune easily won reelection last year.
Since then, Thune made clear he did not think Trump’s style was suitable for the party, and said in November that “it’s clear that running on relitigating the 2020 election is not a winning strategy.” He has also praised Scott’s strengths as a candidate, concluding last year that Scott has “obviously helped a lot of people around the country in the last year, raised a lot of money and built a lot of relationships that can be very useful if he does” run [Burgess Everett, “Thune, No. 2 Senate Republican, Set to Endorse Tim Scott’s Presidential Bid,” Politico, 2023.05.21].
One of those useful relationships is Scott’s connection with Thune and Rounds’s friend Governor Kristi Noem. Scott and Noem entered Congress together in the 2010 Tea Party wave. Immediately after their 2010 victories, their House colleagues elected them freshman class leadership liaisons to make the Republican Party look more youthful and diverse. Scott endorsed Noem in last year’s South Dakota gubernatorial primary, and Noem endorsed Scott back in his South Carolina Senate primary.
Both of South Dakota’s Senators jumping on Tim Scott’s Presidential bandwagon can mean only one thing:
Scott and Noem both said in 2021 they’d support Trump in 2024 and had no plans to run for the White House themselves. But plans change, and the quick endorsements of Scott from both of South Dakota’s United States Senators indicates the SDGOP may be working hard to place Noem at Scott’s side to hitch a ride to the White House that she couldn’t get on her own horse… and to clear the path for some lucky local GOP bigwig (Jackley? Rounds?) to move into the Governor’s mansion a couple years early.