South Dakota Democratic Senator Tim Johnson was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Wednesday for an undetermined illness. Early reports speculated Johnson, who is 59, had suffered a stroke, but physicians have said Johnson did not experience either a stroke or a heart attack earlier in the day. On Thursday morning it was announced that Johnson had suffered from bleeding in the brain caused by a congenital arteriovenous malformation.
Johnson was reelected by approximately 500 votes in 2002 against John Thune (who later defeated Tom Daschle in 2004), and is very popular in his home state. The senior senator from South Dakota regularly scores a 70 percent job approval rating, making him one of the Top 10 most popular Senators as viewed by their respective statewide constituencies.
Johnson is up for reelection in 2008, but if he were unable to convene with the newly election session of Congress in January 2007, South Dakota Republican Governor Mike Rounds would have the power to appoint a new (and likely Republican) senator. Such an appointment would then shift the balance of power in the Senate back to the Republicans, with Vice President Dick Cheney breaking a 50-50 tie in the chamber.