Best case scenario: Johnson makes a full recovery and goes back to the Senate
2nd best: SD Gov. calls special election (which I think is required by SD law) to fill out remainder of his term and Stephanie Herseth wins it and SD has a young Democrat who can hold the seat for years (and who is even cuter than Judy Dutcher). Herseth won her house race, which in SD is a statewide race, last month with 69% of the vote.
3rd best: Johnson can not actively return but holds the seat (a little like Strom Thurmond in his last years) and the Dems hold a 50-49 working majority
Worst case: SD Republican Gov. appoints some wack job conservative who then wins election to a full term and SD doesn't have another Democratic senator for a generation
Update: Crap, switch 2 and 3 above. It looks like under SD law a special election does not take place until the next general election which would be 2008 when Johnson's term is up anyway. In the meantime the governor's appointed replacement would serve almost 2 full years giving the senate to the Republicans. I still think Herseth could win the seat but two years is a long time and the Dems are likely to pick up several more senate seats in 2008 anyway, just based on the fact that about two thirds of the seats that will be defended then are currently held by Republicans.
Another precedent for #3: Karl Mundt, R-SD, had a stroke in 1969. He was an absentee Senator until his term was up in 1973.
It's widely thought that Gov. Rounds himself would have run for that seat in 2008 anyway...he might pick his Lt. Gov (who doesn't appear to have long-term political ambitions) to keep it warm for him.
Herseth vs. Rounds would be an interesting race...they're both pretty middle-of-the-road.
Beyond Tim Johnson's medical issue which I hope and beleive will not force him from his seat. Herseth would make a good candidate for governer in 2008 or 2010 and since it may not be an issue to keep demoractic seats in the house she may consider it. I'm sure Rounds will be courted to challenge Johnson in 2008 and could win it.
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