First Dem to run for SD Senate is… Rick Weiland?

Jonathan Ellis and I just broke the news that Rick Weiland, the former Tom Daschle aide who ran for U.S. House in 1996 and 2002, has announced he’s running for U.S. Senate.

Weiland is the first Democrat to enter the race, and is a bit of a surprise. Speculation until now had centered on Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Brendan Johnson.

The jury’s still out on what Herseth Sandlin will do. But Weiland said he’d spoken with Brendan Johnson lately and was convinced Johnson wouldn’t run. Had Johnson run, Weiland said he’d have backed the U.S. Attorney.

If Herseth Sandlin does run, it won’t be the first time she’s faced off against Weiland. It won’t even be the second time she’s butted heads with a Weiland.

In 2002, Weiland came in a distant second place in the Democratic primary to the woman then known as Stephanie Herseth.

Then in 2010, Weiland’s brother Kevin announced a last-minute challenge to Herseth Sandlin after she voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — only to back down after pressure from national Democrats and Herseth Sandlin’s promise that she opposed repealing the health care reform law.

While national Democrats will probably try to get Rick Weiland to pull out, don’t look for a repeat. While Kevin Weiland’s candidacy was fueled by grassroots anger, Rick also has some big-name backers — including Daschle, who he said was supportive of his plans.

More to come tomorrow and in days to come.

If you have questions, be sure to visit argusleader.com at 3 p.m. tomorrow for a special edition of our live Internet talk show, “100 Eyes on South Dakota Politics,” where we’ll be talking about this announcement.