Former GOP Sen. Larry Pressler weighs independent bid in South Dakota

November 12, 2013

Former three-term Republican senator Larry Pressler says he is considering running for South Dakota's open Senate seat as an independent.

"I think I could help break the deadlock between Republicans and Democrats," he told the Associated Press.

Pressler lost the very same seat in 1996 when Sen. Tim Johnson (D) defeated him. Johnson is now retiring.

Pressler said the odds that he'll run are less than 50 percent.

If he did run, it could throw what is otherwise a likely GOP pickup into doubt. Former governor Mike Rounds (R) is currently running, and Democrats have struggled to find a top-flight recruit to challenge him. Former congressional candidate Rick Weiland has the backing of former Sen. Tom Daschle (R-S.D.) and others but isn't favored by national Democrats.

Pressler helped George W. Bush win election in 2000 and briefly ran for the state's open House seat in 2002, losing the GOP primary to then-Gov. Bill Janklow 55-27.

He revealed in 2008 that he had voted for Barack Obama for president because of Obama's response to the financial crisis. He said it was the first time he voted for a Democrat.

Pressler was the first Vietnam veteran to serve in the Senate.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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