Members of Congress weigh re-election bid ahead of midterms

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During the reclassification process, two of his Democratic colleagues who were also elected to the state in 2018 — Representatives Mikie Sherrill and Andy Kim — were pulled into safer seats. As David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report put it, Malinowski’s district was “more or less sacrificed” to protect other Democratic establishment officials.

Malinowski will ride in a more difficult district in 2022 and probably in a more difficult political environment than he has faced in his previous races. However, there may be at least one factor that he is familiar with: his GOP opponent, Tom Kean Jr., who fell just over 5,000 votes short when he took on Malinowski in 2020, is back in business.

Malinowski was one of the few Democrats to campaign as moderates and to win in the 2018 wave. His reelection bid will test whether that kind of independent persona can withstand a potential Republican wave.

“People in the district like that,” noted Sean Darcy, a New Jersey political adviser. “He has five or six months to introduce himself to his new voters while the Republicans are beating each other up.”

Given how red the state has gone, there’s really only one way a race in South Dakota can get interesting: Trump intervention. Concerned about that possibility, Senator John Thune had waited to make a decision to flee again. After all, Trump threatened to back a primary challenger to Thune, the second Republican in the Senate, for accepting the 2020 election results. And recent reporting suggests that Trump has not yet completely listed Kristi Noem, who has already said she is running for reelection as governor of South Dakota, as a potential primary threat.

“I don’t think Senator John Thune is being intimidated by Donald Trump,” Dick Wadhams, a Republican strategist, told us.

Apparently neither was South Dakota’s other senator, Mike Rounds, who held out this week after the former president called him a “jerk” for saying during an appearance on ABC News that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen.

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