Kimberley Thune (m. 1984)
Senator (R-SD) since 2005
United States Senator
John Randolph Thune
January 7, 1961 (age 63) Murdo, South Dakota, U.S. (
Representative (SD At-large District) 1997–2003
Larissa Thune, Brittany Thune
Mike Rounds, Chuck Grassley, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Arlen Specter
South dakota us senate debate john thune vs jay williams
John Randolph Thune (born January 7, 1961) is an American politician and senior United States Senator from South Dakota, a member of the Republican Party. He previously served as a United States Representative for South Dakota's at-large congressional district. He became South Dakota's senior senator with the retirement of Tim Johnson in 2015. He is South Dakota's senior senator, having served as the GOP's Chief Deputy Whip in 2006, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee in June 2009, and Republican Conference Chairman in 2011, the third-ranking position in the Senate. He has worked in politics and civic organizations since completing his MBA graduate degree. He is also the current dean of South Dakota's congressional delegation.
- South dakota us senate debate john thune vs jay williams
- Senators urged to reach health care deal by Friday Sen John Thune
- Early life education and political career
- Early politics
- 105th Congress 1997 1998
- 106th Congress 1999 2000
- 107th Congress 2001 2002
- Gun laws
- 109th Congress 2005 2006
- 110th Congress 2007 2008
- 111th Congress 2009 2010
- 112th Congress 2011 2012
- 113th Congress 2013 2014
- Committee assignments
- Speculation for higher office
- Personal life
Senators urged to reach health care deal by Friday: Sen. John Thune
Early life, education, and political career
Thune was born in the South Dakota state capital of Pierre, South Dakota, the son of Yvonne Patricia (maiden name Bodine) and Harold Richard Thune. Thune's paternal grandfather, Nicholas Thune, was an immigrant from Norway who partnered with his brother Matt to start Thune Hardware stores in Mitchell and Murdo, South Dakota. His maternal grandfather is from Ontario, Canada, and Thune's mother was born in Saskatchewan. Thune's brother, Richard Thune, is an English teacher at Rowland High School in California. Thune was a star athlete in high school, and was active in basketball, track, and football. Thune graduated from Jones County High School in 1979.
He played college basketball at Biola University in California, where he graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business. Thune received the degree of Master of Business Administration from the University of South Dakota in 1984.
Thune continues to be physically active and frequently competes in running events. A 2012 feature by Runner's World Magazine noted that Thune has "been the fastest man in Congress since 2009."
After completing his MBA, Thune became involved in politics. He worked as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator James Abdnor from 1985 to 1987. In 1980, Abdnor defeated U.S. Senator George McGovern.
In 1989, Thune moved to the state capital of Pierre, South Dakota, where he served as executive director of the state Republican Party for two years. Thune was appointed as Railroad Director of South Dakota by Governor George S. Mickelson, serving from 1991 to 1993. From 1993 to 1996, he was executive director of the South Dakota Municipal League.
In 1996, Thune decided to make his first foray into electoral politics. That year, he entered the race for South Dakota's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Almanac of American Politics said that Thune "entered the 1996 race as very much an underdog." Thune's primary opponent was sitting Lt. Governor Carole Hillard of Rapid City, who benefited from the support of the long-term South Dakota governor Bill Janklow. A poll released in May 1996 showed Hillard ahead of Thune 69%-15%. By relying on strong personal skills and the help of his old network of Abdnor friends, Thune won the primary, defeating Hillard 59%-41%. In the general election, Thune defeated Democrat Rick Weiland, a long-serving aide to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle, 58%-37%.
Thune won his subsequent races for U.S. House by wide margins. He won re-election in 1998 with 75% of the vote and in 2000 with 73% of the vote. In 2002, after briefly considering a run for governor of South Dakota, Thune set his sights on a run for the U.S. Senate.
As a Representative, Thune sponsored 48 bills, including:
105th Congress (1997-1998)
106th Congress (1999-2000)
107th Congress (2001-2002)
In 2002 Thune challenged incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Johnson. Thune lost his bid by only 524 votes (0.15%). One study concluded: “While the margin of victory [for Johnson] was a mere 524 votes, getting into that winning position required a number of important factors, including Native American turnout, the ability of Johnson and his allies to more effectively use the ground war to get their message out, Thune’s ineffectiveness on the air and lack of experience in winning competitive elections, low voter turnout in key Republican counties, the drought, and finally the presence of Kurt Evans. Evans, a Libertarian candidate who withdrew from the race, endorsed Thune, but remained on the ballot and siphoned away more votes from Thune than Johnson. Evans received only 3,070 votes, but that ended up being six times greater than the margin of victory.” Despite the close results, Thune did not contest the election.
Following his 2002 loss to Tim Johnson, Thune challenged Tom Daschle, the United States Senate Minority Leader and leader of the Senate Democrats, in the 2004 elections. In early 2003, Daschle unexpectedly decided not to run for president. CNN reported that the "announcement surprised even some of his closest aides, one of whom told CNN plans were being made for Daschle to announce his candidacy Saturday in his hometown of Aberdeen, South Dakota."
This was the most expensive Senate race in 2004, with $30 million spent, and it was the most expensive race in South Dakota history. It was widely followed in the national media. Thune, along with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, President of the United States George W. Bush, and Vice President Dick Cheney, described Daschle as the "chief obstructionist" of Bush's agenda: "Thune was able to criticize 'Daschle for serving incompatible masters' and portray him, as Frist did when he came to South Dakota to campaign for Thune, as a partisan obstructionist and political heir to liberal icon and former Senator George McGovern of South Dakota."
Daschle's critics charged the Democrat with using filibusters to block confirmation of several of Bush's nominees to the federal judiciary and of being out of step with the views of South Dakota voters on other political and social issues: "The GOP had targeted Daschle, the Senate minority leader, claiming he had been the chief obstruction to President Bush on such issues as tax cuts, judicial nominees and the war in Iraq."
When the race began in early 2004, Daschle led by 7% in January and February. By May, his lead fell to just 2% and into the summer, polls showed an effective tie. Throughout September, Daschle led Thune by margins of 2–5%; from October until the November 2 election, most polls showed Thune and Daschle tied 49% to 49% among likely voters.
On November 2, 2004, Thune defeated Daschle by 4,508 votes, winning 51% of the vote. Daschle's loss was the first ousting of an incumbent Floor Leader since 1952, when Arizona Senator Ernest McFarland lost his seat to Barry Goldwater. The New York Times reported that the loss made “Mr. Daschle the first Senate party leader in more than five decades to be voted out of office. The race had been closely watched by both parties, with White House officials calling the senator an obstructionist for opposing the president on the war in Iraq, tax cuts and judicial nominees. Senator Daschle had fought hard, raising $16 million during the campaign as of mid-October, which he spent largely on television advertisements. Mr. Thune had raised $10 million by the same time.”
South Dakota native Tom Brokaw commented that Thune "ran a very strong campaign" to win the 2004 race. University of South Dakota political scientist Bill Richardson said "motivated John Thune supporters went to the polls in large numbers, part of a massive South Dakota turnout. Unofficial results show nearly 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots."
After Thune defeated Daschle in 2004, many Republicans regarded Thune as a "rising star with unlimited political potential."
Thune faced no Republican or Democratic opposition for his Senate seat in 2010 and won re-election with 100% of the vote. Scott Heidepriem, the South Dakota Senate Minority Leader and a Democratic candidate for Governor of South Dakota, said, "We just concluded that John Thune is an extremely popular senator who is going to win another term in the Senate." One political observer of South Dakota politics noted in 2010 that it was "the first time in the state’s modern history in which a major party has failed to field a Senate candidate."
On December 6, 2006, Thune was chosen by Senate Republican Whip Trent Lott to be the GOP's Chief Deputy Whip. After briefly serving as Republican Conference Vice-Chairman, Thune became chairman of the Republican Policy Committee in June 2009, which is the fourth-ranking position in the Senate.
He was elected Republican Conference Chairman in 2011, taking office in January 2012. The Conference Chairman is the third-ranking position in the US Senate. In late 2011, the Mitchell Daily Republic reported that "Thune’s elevation to the No. 3 spot makes him the highest-ranking Republican senator in South Dakota history. Thune has served as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee from 2009 until the present time and was vice chairman of the Republican Conference from 2008 to 2009 and the Republican chief deputy whip from 2006 to 2008."
Thune's emergence as a conservative voice in the US Senate gained him a lengthy profile in the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard. The American Conservative Union gave Senator Thune a rating of 100 in 2006, and again in 2010; as of 2010, Thune's lifetime ACU rating was 88.97. Thune was praised in a 2010 profile by the Weekly Standard as an exceptional politician who was, unlike many of his colleagues, able to communicate traditional conservatism, making him a popular alternative to Tea Party representatives.
Since becoming a Senator, Thune has taken a leading role in formulating energy policy. He pushed for the final passage of a comprehensive energy bill, which overcame a series of Democratic filibusters and passed the Senate in 2005. Thune helped pass another energy bill in late 2007. Thune advocates developing alternative sources of energy such as ethanol and wind energy; South Dakota has high levels of corn production and windy prairies to produce these forms of energy.
On March 6, 2014, Thune introduced the Reliable Home Heating Act (S. 2086; 113th Congress). The bill would require the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to exempt motor carriers that transport home heating oil from numerous federal safety regulations if the governor of a state declares a state of emergency caused by a shortage of residential heating fuel. The bill also would require the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to notify states if certain petroleum reserves fall below historical averages. Thune said that he was "hopeful that this legislation will eliminate red tape for governors to better meet the needs of their residents and businesses during what can be very dangerous conditions."
Thune has become a strong advocate of conservative causes such as gun rights, sponsoring legislation that would allow individuals with concealed carry permits to use such permits as a valid permit in other states.
In May 2016, Thune sent a letter to Facebook demanding details of how the social media site operates its Trending Topics feature. This followed a Gizmodo article that cited anonymous sources, claiming to be former Facebook employees, who alleged a systemic anti-conservative political bias in how material is selected for display in the list.
Some commentators criticized Thune's letter as an example of government overreach against a private company. Facebook denied the bias allegations. Thune thanked Facebook in a statement saying, "Private companies are fully entitled to espouse their own views, so I appreciate Facebook’s efforts to address allegations of bias raised in the media and my concern about a lack of transparency in its methodology for determining trending topics."
Thune is part of the group of 13 Senators drafting the Senate version of the AHCA behind closed doors.
As a Senator, Thune has sponsored 117 bills, including:
109th Congress (2005-2006)
110th Congress (2007-2008)
111th Congress (2009-2010)
112th Congress (2011-2012)
113th Congress (2013-2014)
Source: John Thune
Speculation for higher office
Prior to the selection of Sarah Palin, Thune was mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick for Republican Presumptive Nominee John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Thune publicly played down the speculation.
Significant speculation arose regarding a potential 2012 presidential bid by Thune. Thune was encouraged to run by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who called him "a consensus builder." One Wall Street Journal article stated that Thune possesses "name ID in the parts of the first caucus state of Iowa that get neighboring South Dakota media, a $6.9 million bank account he could use for a presidential run, and a national fundraising list of 100,000 names from his race against [former Senator Tom] Daschle." DNC Executive Director Jennifer O'Malley Dillon publicly stated that "among a field of generally flawed (in one way or another) Republican presidential candidates, there is one who genuinely scares her. 'This is personal[,] but John Thune is somebody that I have nightmares about,' she said. 'I've worked for Tim Johnson and Tom Daschle and he is just a guy you can't ever count out.'" According to multiple commentators, a Thune candidacy could be helped by his personal appearance (he "looks like a president"). On February 22, 2011, however, Thune announced he would not run in the presidential election in 2012. During the summer of 2012, the USA Today reported that "South Dakota's Thune is on short list for vice president," but Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan was instead selected. Thune engendered some speculation that he might run in the 2016 presidential election, but he declined to run, stating that his "window...might have closed in 2012."
Thune married the former Kimberley Weems of Doland, South Dakota in 1984. They have two daughters, Brittany and Larissa.
Thune is a fan of the bands Styx, Journey, Boston, and the Doobie Brothers.
Thune's father, Harold, was a fighter pilot in the Pacific theater during World War II who flew the Grumman F6F Hellcat. KELO News reported that "Thune flew numerous missions for the Navy from an aircraft carrier. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down four enemy planes in the Hellcat." Harold Thune flew his missions off the USS Intrepid.