SD-Sen: Tim Johnson Makes "Giant Leaps Forward", Per Wife

It appears that Tim Johnson's recovery is moving forward. Kevin Woster has the details of the story for the Rapid City Journal.

Despite the rigorous demands of life in the U.S. Senate, Barbara Johnson believes a return to that energizing world of floor debate and committee hearings would speed her husband in his recovery from a brain hemorrhage seven months ago.

"When he came home from the hospital, he made giant leaps forward that first week," Barbara Johnson told the Journal. "I think the same thing would happen once he gets back in the office and on the (Senate) floor with his colleagues and friends."

During one of her few interviews since her husband fell ill last December, Barbara Johnson stopped just short of affirming that her husband would seek re-election in 2008. But she also made it clear that the 60-year-old, second-term senator is not ready to retire, despite lingering stroke-like speech and physical impairments that are improving bit by bit.


"Giving it [her husband running for another term] serious thought, the reason we would consider it goes back to why we started this years ago," she said. "We wanted to make South Dakota stronger and to make lives better. That almost sounds like a Ms. America answer, doesn't it? But the simple truth is that after years in Congress, Tim can actually make a lot of things happen for South Dakota.

"It would be a shame to throw away that investment made by the people of South Dakota so we can sit on the deck."

This is great news on a number of levels. First and foremost, a full recovery by Johnson would mean that he would have more time to spend with his family -- his wife, his children, his 94-year-old father. This comes ahead of any political considerations.

Looking also at the politics, because that's what the focus of this site is and there are obvious political ramifications to Johnson's recovery even though his health is more important than any election, Johnson's wife seemed to stop short of saying that her husband would indeed run for reelection -- though seemed to indicate a strong interest in doing so and laying out the argument for his reelection (the last quote, in particular). And as loudly as her words ring, the fact that Johnson's campaign brought in $585,000$660,000 last quarter and is sitting on a warchest of more than $1.75 million shows that the Senator and his supporters are at least putting themselves in the position to run a winning campaign should the Senator want to make a go for another term.

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WSJ: Johnson Could Be Back in Senate "Sooner than Most People Expect"

This news from Mary Lu Carnevale writing for The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire seems to be positive.

A South Dakota radio personality who visited with Sen. Tim Johnson last month says the South Dakota Democrat will likely be back in his Senate office sooner than most people expect.

Tony Dean, an outdoor television and radio host and a longtime Johnson friend, told radio station KCCR in Pierre that Johnson's mind is "keen," and that the senator hopes to be back on the Senate floor perhaps as early as late summer or fall.

Johnson suffered a brain hemorrhage in December, underwent emergency surgery and in recently has been in outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy five days a week. Johnson's office released a photograph of him this week, walking with a therapist's assistance. Johnson's regimen has been aggressive, and KCCR reported that Dean "had little trouble, if any, understanding" him. His Senate office is being renovated to accommodate a scooter and colleagues have been helping out with fund-raising for his 2008 re-election -- though no formal announcement on a run has been made.

Outside of Louisiana, South Dakota appeared to be the most difficult seat for Democrats to defend at the outset of the cycle. But since Johnson's tragedy and his thus far remarkable recovery the race has quieted down noticeably.

The fact that Johnson was able to win even in the decidedly Republican cycle last time he was up for reelection (in 2002) and that he has been raising serious dollars towards this reelection campaign would have made it somewhat difficult for any Republican, probably even including the incumbent Republican Governor Mike Rounds, to take him on. But the fact that the hopes, prayers and sympathies of South Dakotans are now with Johnson and he appears, from media reports, to be improving at an inspiringly fast rate could simply discourage any and all potentially serious Republican challengers to make the plunge in the state.

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Dems' Big Middle Finger to the American Voter

UPDATE: Since posting this diary early this morning, Democrats have come forward with a plan on Iraq that appears - for the first time - to be binding. This is a solid (though certainly not perfect) step, indeed. Let me add two things: First, in the last week, we've seen how these proposals can get floated and then undercut. Second, when such plans do get undercut, they often get undercut by the same anti-democratic factions outlined in this diary - factions that we as progressives will have to continue to work to pressure if this plan, or any other, is going to pass. Oh, and one final note: To those automatons who are so blinded by partisan rage that they can't see the need to pressure Democrats, I say that this new announcement by Democrats is a vindication for all of us who have tried - like studious movement participants - to hold both parties' feet to the fire.

One of my idiosyncratic little hobbies of late is to keep a tally on statements by Washington politicians and pundits that are express an open hatred for democracy. This hobby is a subset of a bigger collection of quotes I collect that show how Washington politicians are entirely divorced from the political reality they purport to be experts on - a classic example is Sen. Chuck Schumer's hilariously moronic declaration that strengthening the Patriot Act is politically good for red state Democrats (thanks for your helping make the Montana Senate race that much harder, Chuck!). I'm not exactly sure why I focus on this, other than because it is important to always remind ourselves just how different - and hateful - the Beltway is towards the country it purports to represent. Today, we get a beauty from South Dakota Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D).

In the Washington Post's solid writeup of the debate over Iraq in the House, a faction of Democrats continues to attack the very Election 2006 mandate they were vaulted into office on: opposition to the war. Justifying her opposition to bills that would stop President Bush's military escalation, we get this from South Dakota's lone House member:

"I don't think we should be overreacting to public opinion polls."

I give Herseth credit - her use of "overreacting" deviously implies that there are just a few very recent polls here and there showing negligible opposition to the war, and that Serious People in Congress should never "overreact" to the supposed fleeting whims of the American people. But, of course, the American public has been strongly critical of the Iraq War for almost 4 years now.

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Time to get a candidate for SD-Sen

(Cross-posted at dailykos with a different title)

I've been waiting to hear something about how Tim Johnson was doing, and finally this story ( ohnson.html?_r=1&ref=politics&or ef=slogin)    came out in the NY Times yesterday. As a neurologist, I am able to do some reading between the lines that others might be unable to do. Here's what it says medically for him -- and, since this is an analytical group blog, politically for us.

First, they are weaning down his sedation, which obviously means he is getting better rather than worse. The tone of the doctor's comments supports that too. While one can obviously never be too certain about anything when it comes to serious illness, at this point I would have no reason to believe that Senator Johnson is going to die. As many on this site (and others) have discussed, Senate precedent appears to indicate that he will continue to hold his seat as long as he is alive, so barring an unforseen catastrophe I think we will hold the Senate 50-49.

More on the flip.

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Tim Johnson Has Stroke

Discuss.  Or just panic.  Either one is fine.  I mean it's a blog.

Update: Rumor has it he's fine.

Update [2006-12-13 20:9:49 by Jonathan Singer]: From the AP:

Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota was hospitalized after becoming disoriented Wednesday, weeks before his party is to take control of the Senate by a one-vote margin.

Johnson, who turns 60 on Dec. 28, was admitted to George Washington University Hospital with an undiagnosed illness, said a spokeswoman, Julianne Fisher.

She said, however, the senator did not suffer a stroke or heart attack. His office had said earlier it was a possible stroke. [emphasis added]

Update [2006-12-14 0:48:15 by Jonathan Singer]:The Washington Post's Charles Babington and Jonathan Weisman have the late-breaking details on Sen. Johnson.

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) was in surgery last night after falling ill at the Capitol, introducing a note of uncertainty over control of the Senate just weeks before Democrats are to take over with a one-vote margin. Johnson, 59, was taken to George Washington University Hospital shortly after noon, where he underwent "a comprehensive evaluation by the stroke team," his office said. Aides later said he had not suffered a stroke or heart attack, but they offered no further comment or details of the surgery.
CBS News is also reporting the following news:
Sources close to the situation tell CBS News the situation is definitely not good.
Update [2006-12-14 10:1:57 by Jerome Armstrong]:Blogs USA Today:Update at 9:30 a.m. ET: The U.S. Capitol physician told AP the surgery, in which doctors stopped the bleeding and untangled abnormally large blood vessels in Johnson's brain, was successful."The senator is recovering without complication," Adm. John Eisold said. "It is premature to determine whether further surgery will be required or to assess any long-term prognosis."USA Today has goulish audio of the Johnson exhibiting symptoms of a stroke during a conference call yesterday.

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