The fastest Senator in the last four annual Capital Challenge three-mile race, also happens to be the third highest ranking Republican in the Senate, by virtue of his chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference. It isn’t really surprising considering that the model conservative is a natural athlete, having starred in multiple sporting events at both school and college levels.
It was during one of these events that his political career took root. The late Senator James Abdnor attended one of his basketball games, and watched as young John scored five out of six free throws during the game. The following day, Senator Abdnor fortuitously stumbled across John in town, and a conversation ensued about the missed shot. The two, despite their 38-years age difference, struck up a friendship that lasted over 35 years, until the Senator’s death in 2012.
After college, he worked as an aide for Abdnor in Congress for two years, before leaving to join a lobbying firm. Three years later, Thune was appointed as the Executive Director of the South Dakota Republican Party, a position he held for two years before being hired as South Dakota’s State Railroad Director. After serving for two years, Thune was poached by the South Dakota Municipal League, where he was the Executive Director from 1993-1997.
By now, the disarmingly humble and gracious 6’4” Thune had already become a well-known figure in the local political scene, so it came as no surprise when Senator Abdnor pushed him to contest for a seat in the House. Thune followed his advice, and won. Congressman Thune would serve for three terms before resigning to run for the state’s Senate seat in 2002. He lost, but came back in 2004, and with the support of Abdnor, scored a dramatic and unexpected victory over Democrat Tom Daschle, the Senate Minority Leader.
Physically, he may be the most imposing man in Congress. The question is, will 2016 also mark the year where Senator John Thune becomes the most politically-imposing man inWashington?