- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

VERMILLION, S.D. (AP) - Retiring U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson said the latest stop on his statewide “Tour of Thanks” holds a special place in his heart.

Johnson returned to his hometown of Vermillion on Wednesday to thank people who have supported him during his decades in elected office, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reported (https://bit.ly/1wNBPHg ).

“It’s good to be back in our hometown with so many great friends,” he told the crowd at the city library. “When you have been around as long as I have, 36 years in politics, in fact, you feel like you have done just about every kind of public event. Whether it’s a roundtable, rally, interview, tour or parade. But doing an event like today is different. There is just one simple message - thank you.”

Johnson, a Democrat, announced last year that he would not seek re-election this year. He was first elected to the Senate in November 1996.

Johnson beat prostate cancer in 2004 but suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2006. He returned to work the following year and won re-election in 2008. He thanked people on Wednesday for supporting him and also his wife, Barb, who has twice beaten breast cancer.

Johnson called his impending retirement “bittersweet.”

“On one hand, I will get to be a grandpa full time,” he said. “But on the other (hand), I will truly miss getting to work with the people here in Vermillion and around our state on matters that can better our communities and our quality of life. I am very proud of the work we have done together.”

University of South Dakota President James Abbott also spoke at the public reception, saying it would difficult to overstate the importance of Johnson’s career.

“Tim is not simply an elected official,” Abbot said. “He is a statesman.”


Information from: Yankton Press and Dakotan, https://www.yankton.net/

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