In the redistricting process, two of his fellow Democrats also elected in the state in 2018 – Representatives Mikie Sherrill and Andy Kim – were swept into safer seats. As David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report put it, Malinowski’s district “has been more or less sacrificed” to protect other Democratic incumbents.
Malinowski is running in a tougher district in 2022, and likely in a tougher political environment than he has faced in his previous races. However, there may be at least one factor he knows about: His GOP opponent Tom Kean Jr., who fell just over 5,000 votes short when he faced Malinowski in 2020, is running again.
Malinowski was one of a handful of Democrats who campaigned as moderates and won in the 2018 wave. His re-election bid will test whether this type of independent figure can withstand a possible Republican wave.
“That’s what people in the neighborhood like,” noted Sean Darcy, a New Jersey-based political consultant. “He will have five or six months to present himself to his new voters while the Republicans are beating themselves up.”
Republican senators push back against Trump
Given how red the state has turned, there’s really only one way a race in South Dakota could get interesting: Trump’s intervention. Concerned by this possibility, Senator John Thune was waiting to make a decision to run again. After all, Trump threatened to back a primary challenger to Thune, the second Senate Republican, because he accepted the 2020 election results. And recent reports suggest Trump hasn’t quite given up on Kristi yet. Noem, who has previously said she is running for re-election as governor of South Dakota, as a potential primary threat.
“I don’t think Senator John Thune is intimidated by Donald Trump,” Dick Wadhams, a Republican strategist, told us.
Neither, apparently, fellow South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds, who stood his ground this week after the former president called him a “moron” for saying during a appearance on TUSEN News that the election was not stolen in 2020.