United States Senate election in South Dakota, 2002

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United States Senate election in South Dakota, 2002

← 1996 November 5, 2002 2008 →

  Tim Johnson official portrait, 2009.jpg John Thune official photo.jpg
Nominee Tim Johnson John Thune
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 167,481 166,957
Percentage 49.6% 49.5%

South Dakota Senate 2002.svg
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Tim Johnson

Elected U.S. Senator

Tim Johnson

The 2002 United States Senate election in South Dakota was held on November 5, 2002. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Tim Johnson won re-election to a second term by a margin of 524 votes.

Democratic primary[edit]



Democratic primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tim Johnson (Incumbent) 65,438 94.84%
Democratic Herman Eilers 3,558 5.16%
Total votes 68,996 100.00%

General election[edit]



Thune, who was considered a rising star in his party, ran against Tim Johnson, who narrowly won his first senate election in 1996. Thune launched a television advertising campaign mentioning al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, contending that both are seeking nuclear weapons and that this country needs a missile defense system, something Johnson voted against 29 times and that Thune supports. The incumbent attacked Thune for politicizing national security.[2] President George W. Bush campaigned for Thune in late October.[3] More than $20 million was spent in the election. Both candidates had raised over $5 million each.[4]



Johnson narrowly prevailed over Thune by a mere 524 votes. Despite the extreme closeness of the election, Thune did not contest the results and conceded defeat on the late afternoon of November 9. Johnson's narrow victory may be attributed to Minnehaha County home of Sioux Falls. Thune also underperformed in typically Republican areas. Johnson was sworn in for a second term on January 3, 2003. Johnson would go on to easily win a third term in 2008.

General election results[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tim Johnson (Incumbent) 167,481 49.62% -1.70%
Republican John Thune 166,949 49.47% +0.79%
Libertarian Kurt Evans 3,070 0.91%
Plurality 532 0.15% -2.49%
Turnout 334,438
Democratic hold Swing