Heidepriem endorses ‘Draft Brendan’ (updated)

Former state Senate Minority Leader and gubernatorial candidate Scott Heidepriem called for U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson to run for Senate today.

Heidepriem’s announcement was released by the “Draft Brendan Johnson” campaign organized by Ryan Casey.

"I’ve worked with Brendan — seen up close his tenacious sense of justice and the talent he brings to fight for what is right," Heidepriem said in the statement. "I hope he runs for the Senate because I think he’s exactly the voice we need to stand up for our Democratic values and represent everyday, middle class South Dakotans."¬†

The former Democratic leader in the Senate, Heidepriem ran for governor in 2010 and lost in a landslide to Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

The announcement is not a surprise. Heidepriem is Johnson’s former law partner at Johnson, Heidepriem & Abdallah, LLP (though the “Johnson” in that name is no relation to Brendan) and is a longtime ally to Johnson’s father, U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson. The campaign manager for Tim Johnson’s 2008 Senate bid, Steve Jarding, also ran Heidepriem’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

"He was my law partner for four years and is one of my closest friends," said Heidepriem.

Heidepriem said he hasn’t talked with Johnson about the endorsement, but has discussed politics more generally with him “over coffee.” But Heidepriem said he has “absolutely” no idea whether Johnson will run for Senate as he called on him to do today.