The John Thune vs.

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June 20, 2002 1:34 p.m.

The John Thune vs. Tim Johnson race in South Dakota is one of the most hotly contested and closely watched of this election cycle. Both Thune and Johnson are popular South Dakota politicians. (If you visit their sites, I warn you, you’ll see many farms.) But the race is widely seen as a proxy battle between President Bush and South Dakota’s senior senator, Tom Daschle (Johnson is Daschle’s protege). The race will also be key in determining control of the Senate.

But DC Republicans — particularly the folks at the RNC and the NRSC — aren’t that happy about the race Thune is running. His staff looks weak; they’re easily provoked by their opposites on Johnson’s campaign; they’ve just gotten goaded into a flurry of negative ads against Johnson; and they’re apparently not that cooperative with the master-strategists in DC.

It’s not that Thune’s out of the race. Far from it. The polls have been neck and neck for some time. And Thune’s got tons of advantages. It’s a strongly Republican state where Bush won by like a million points in 2000.

But the campaign Thune’s team has put together is getting decidely lukewarm reviews. If that doesn’t change, might Republicans shift some resources to other races?

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