Following up on an earlier post, Sen. John Thune (R.-S.D.) got his wish today when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) voted to spare his home-state Ellsworth Air Force Base. Thune campaigned on the issue last year, and defeated a powerful incumbent, then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
In his Monday column, Bob Novak wrote that Thune’s inability to keep Ellsworth off the base-closure list had made him “a ‘Son of the Wild Jackass’ familiar to the Great Plains.” Novak said it also put Thune in a tough spot in Washington, where he was being groomed as key recruiter and fund-raiser for GOP candidates in 2008.
Congratulations, Sen. Thune. The base-closing commission said it agreed with your arguments on the merits—that closing Ellsworth wouldn’t actually save the Department of Defense money.
We can only hope that politics had nothing to do with it. But it seems quite suspicious that two of the high-profile recommendations—shuttering Ellsworth and closing a Navy base in Groton, Conn.—were rejected after high-profile political fights. Thune and his congressional colleagues must be jubilant, just as Connecticut GOP Rep. Rob Simmons and his state’s two Democrat senators were when Groton was saved Tuesday.
These two congressional Republicans are breathing easier today as a result.