Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds will make an announcement today in Rapid City regarding the 2014 U.S. Senate race.
And while the popular Republican won't reveal his intentions, political science specialists expect him to announce that he will run for the seat now held by Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.
"I would anticipate that this will be an announcement that he has finalized the decision to run," Bob Burns, a professor emeritus in political science at South Dakota State University, said Wednesday.
Rounds spokesman Rob Skjonsberg said by email Wednesday there would be no official word from Rounds until the announcement news conferences are made today in Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Pierre.
Burns said it makes sense for Rounds to get out early in the campaign.
"I think he's probably trying to discourage other Republicans from getting in the primary," he said. "The sooner you get out there and get your organization going, the better deterrent you have."
Burns said Rounds, a two-term governor from Fort Pierre who previously served as Republican leader in the South Dakota Senate, would be "formidable" as a Senate candidate. But Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, who recently won her second term in Congress, also would be a strong candidate if she chooses to run, he said.
Johnson hasn't said whether he will run for a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. But Burns said Johnson remains a powerful force if he does run.
"Johnson would be very strong again," Burns said. "He would be well financed and could put together a strong organization. He would certainly be the best hope the Democrats have of holding on to that Senate seat."
Rounds will speak at 11:30 a.m. today in Rapid City, 8:30 a.m. CST in Pierre and 4 p.m. CST in Sioux Falls.