South Dakota senior Senator Tim Johnson remains in an in-patient rehabilitation center in Washington, D.C. as he continues his recovery from the arteriovenous malformation that struck him late last year. Before falling ill, Johnson was already considered one of the few vulnerable Democratic Senators up for reelection in 2008, due to the demographics of his home state. Now, more than 4 months later, with his personal health improving each month, Johnson’s political fate (and the fate of his important Democratic seat in the Senate) remains uncertain.
In his favor, Senator Johnson is extremely popular back home—with approval ratings frequently reaching 70 percent before being taken ill. However, South Dakota is a red state and should be able to field a strong candidate against Johnson.
Whether or not Johnson will be able to travel the state and campaign person-to-person is not yet clear. Johnson is trying to remain engaged as a Senator from his rehabilitation facility. For example, in late March 2007, Johnson approved the use of his proxy in a Senate Appropriations Committee mark-up in support of the Democratic-led emergency supplemental spending bill. But Johnson has obviously not been able to come to the Senate chamber to cast votes, including some very important (and close) votes on the Iraq war.