On Tuesday evening Sioux Falls hosted a "Welcome Back" celebration marking Democratic Senator Tim Johnson's birthday and return to South Dakota for the first time since nearly losing his life last December. The Senator spoke for a little more than 10 minutes and declared, "I am back," to a room full of roaring applause.
South Dakota's Democratic at-large Representative Stephanie Herseth moderated the event, which also included an appearance and warm speech by Republican Governor Mike Rounds. (Republican Senator John Thune was out of the country and unable to attend the event, but videotaped a message for Johnson).
Rounds is considered to be one of the few Republicans in state who would have any chance at unseating the extremely popular Johnson in next year's election, should Johnson decide to run. The Governor, however, is not expected to make such a run in 2008 with Johnson on the ballot (Rounds was re-elected for his second term as Governor last year).