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Soon after President Trump declared that South Dakota Sen. John Thune's "political career is over," the state’s governor and Trump ally Kristi Noem called the number two Republican in the Senate "a friend" and said she wouldn’t "be challenging" Thune when he is up for re-election in 2022.
The fireworks from the president came Tuesday night when Trump tweeted "Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, 'Mitch’s boy', should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!"
Trump didn’t say why he was taking aim at Thune, but his tweet came a day after the longtime senator dismissed a push by the president to try and upend the presidential election results when a joint session of Congress scheduled for Jan. 6 is set to formally certify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory over Trump.
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Thune told reporters that the president’s plan, which is backed by some strong Trump allies in the House of Representatives, is "just not going anywhere" and that "in the Senate it would go down like a shot dog."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with, from left, Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., McConnell, John Thune, R-S.D., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
The president has refused to concede the election to Biden, even after last week’s vote by the Electoral College, and has repeatedly charged without providing concrete evidence that the election was "RIGGED" due to "massive voter fraud."
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Trump has also taken aim repeatedly at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell after the longtime GOP senator from Kentucky last week recognized Biden’s victory. McConnell won re-election last month and would not face voters again for another six years.
Thune, a former congressman who was first elected to the Senate in 2004, is far from a "RINO," which stands for Republican-In-Name-Only. He’s considered one of the most reliable Republican votes in the chamber and isn’t seen as a vulnerable senator.
Noem, one of the few Republicans in South Dakota with clout and stature to potentially challenge Thune in 2022, didn’t waste any time in dispelling such a notion.
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The governor tweeted: "[email protected] is a friend of mine, and I will not be challenging him. I’m honored to be Governor of South Dakota and will ask the people to give me an opportunity to continue serving them as Governor in 2022."
The president in recent weeks has also taken aim at other Republicans who’ve either recognized Biden’s victory or have refused to help the president as he’s tried to reverse the election results. Among those attacked are Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who are both up for reelection in 2022.
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