SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Senator John Thune is heading back to Washington D.C. to represent South Dakota in the U.S. Senate.

The Associated Press called the race at 8:01 p.m., just one minute after the polls closed in western South Dakota.

With 67 precincts of 687 reporting, Thune has 68% with Democrat Brian Bengs at 28% and Libertarian Tamara Lesnar at 4%.

Thune is celebrating tonight’s win in Sioux Falls with Governor Kristi Noem and U.S. House Representative Dusty Johnson.

“What really makes this state tick and what makes it special is our people,” Thune told supporters Tuesday evening.

Thune thanked his family, his team, and the voters for the opportunity to serve another term. He added that he will always calls it like he sees it.

“Even when it makes people a little uncomfortable, maybe it makes me a little unpopular, even when you don’t agree with me, if it makes me like you a little bit less, because I think– Policy is important, the policy for our country is important but character is important and truth, truth folks is the ultimate principle,” Thune said.

The Senate minority whip is hoping to tackle inflation and government spending as well as securing the southern border in Washington D.C.

The Murdo native was first elected to office as South Dakota’s lone representative for the U.S. House in 1997. Thune served in the House until 2002 when he made his first Senate bid, narrowly losing to Democrat Senator Time Johnson. Thune eventually secured the Senate seat in 2004.

South Dakota Election Results aren’t expected to start being reported until after 8 p.m. CT, when all polls across the state are closed. You’ll be able to follow along as results are reported on this topic in this story and from the Your Local Election Headquarters page.

A look at the candidates

Democrat Brian Bengs is a Navy veteran and retired Air Force Academy professor seeking to unseat Thune.

In a conversation with KELOLAND News, Bengs said that he wants more forces and technology at the southern border, is in favor of capping prescription drug prices, ending the filibuster and protecting Medicaid, Social Security and access to abortion.

Libertarian Tamara Lesnar thinks that ordinary Americans are being left out of the lawmaking process and wants to fix that.

Lesnar supports access to abortion, among other personal freedoms, protecting Social Security and Medicaid, and bringing manufacturing back to America to make the country less dependent on other countries.

Republican John Thune served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997-2003 before being elected to the Senate in 2004. Thune is now the Senate minority whip.

Thune said his experience in Washington, D.C., for the last two decades has proven he is an effective leader for South Dakota. He is opposed to wasteful government spending, a secure southern border and is opposed to student loan debt forgiveness.

Find the latest election coverage at Your Local Election Headquarters

KELOLAND News will have coverage of this race and others throughout Election Day 2022 on-air and online.