“I’ve always promised that I would do the work, even when it was hard, uncomfortable, or unpopular. That work continues, which is why after careful consideration and prayer, and with the support of my family, I’m asking South Dakotans for the opportunity to continue serving them in the U.S Senate,” he said in a statement.
The 61-year-old is currently serving his third term as a senator from South Dakota and is widely seen as the likely successor to the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in history, Mitch McConnell.
He’s been at odds with former President Donald Trump before, most recently when Trump encouraged
current South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to run against Thune in the election. Thune had been one of the top Republicans to speak in favor of accepting the Electoral College results and President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, drawing Trump’s ire.
He said for weeks he was waiting to make his decision as he had been struggling
with whether to seek another six-year term.
Ahead of the crucial 2022 midterms, there have been a few high-profile, long-serving establishment Republicans who have announced they won’t seek reelection in 2022 and retire once their term is up. Those Republicans include Sens. Roy Blunt
of Missouri, Rob Portman
of Ohio, Pat Toomey
of Pennsylvania, Richard Shelby
of Alabama and Richard Burr of North Carolina.
Still, Republicans have not been been hit as hard with retirements in the House as Democrats
, putting the GOP in a good position to defend their seats while picking up other congressional seats.
Thune, a former House lawmaker and DC lobbyist, was first elected to the Senate in November 2004, defeating then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat.
He ran unopposed in November 2010 and won his third term in the Senate in 2016.
Thune has held the role of Senate Republican whip since 2019.
This story has been updated.