Democrat Brian Bengs stands between John Thune and historic fourth term
It's happened just once in South Dakota history
It’s known in South Dakota politics as the Mundt curse. If it strikes again, Brian Bengs will be the beneficiary.
Bengs is the Democratic challenger to Sen. John Thune in this year’s Senate race. Thune is seeking a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. Only one person in state history, Karl Mundt, has ever been elected to four terms.
That South Dakota has only elected one person to four terms in the Senate stands out compared to other states. While some states send the same person back to the Senate for term after term, South Dakota voters have been more temperamental. In the past 42 years, three senators – George McGovern, Larry Pressler and Tom Daschle – have tried to win a fourth term and failed, with Daschle losing to Thune.
All of South Dakota’s neighboring states have had senators who served longer than Mundt, with North Dakota and Iowa having some of the longest-serving senators.
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Bengs, his wife and two daughters, settled in Aberdeen in 2016 after Bengs retired as a military officer. It was an unorthodox military career. The Iowa native joined the Navy after high school. He then returned to Iowa, got an undergraduate degree from Iowa State University, got a law degree from the University of Iowa Law School, and then joined the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
After the nomadic lifestyle of career military, Bengs and his wife were looking for a smaller town in the Midwest. He took a teaching job at Northern State University.