Sioux Falls, SD
A Washington D.C. political expert thinks it could be one of the most competitive U.S. Senate races in 2014.
Mike Rounds’ announcement on Thursday that he plans to run for Senator Tim Johnson's seat in two years sets up a battle between a popular two-term Republican and a 16 year Democratic mainstay in the U.S. Senate.
Johnson hasn't made any formal announcements about a re-election campaign but after Rounds announced he was running Thursday, Johnson hinted in a statement that he plans to put together a 'winning campaign.'
Rounds is only the second candidate in the country to announce that his is running for the United States Senate in 2014 and while it may be early, Jennifer Duffy with The Cook Political Report says raising money for the race can't start soon enough.
"Senator Johnson is the chair of the Banking Committee. It tends to be a magnet for fundraising, so this will be a very expensive race and I think that Governor Rounds has to begin that fundraising now to be competitive," Duffy said.
At the end of September Johnson had $1.2 million in his campaign war chest.
Duffy believes a lot of money from across the country will be poured into the race as both parties fight for the balance of power in the Senate.
"If Republicans want to take the Senate majority in 2014 they are going to have to pick up six seats to take it away from the Democrats so they're looking for every opportunity possible," Duffy said.
And with Rounds being a popular two-term former governor, she says that the Republicans see this as an opportunity to win a seat that's been held by a Democrat for the past 16 years.
"I think that they view this as one of the better opportunities they've got to pick up a Democratic held seat," Duffy said.
It's why a Johnson, Rounds race in 2014 may be South Dakota's next political barn burner.
In the first three quarters of 2012 Federal Election Commission reports show that Senator Johnson raised more than a million dollars.
Rounds will have to file his first financial report at the end of January if he raises more than $5,000 by the end of the year.