SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota Republican John Thune has easily retained his U.S. Senate seat in a rare unopposed race.
Senate historians say Thune is just the third Republican to run unopposed for the body since direct elections were established in 1913.
The outcome has been close the other two times Thune has run for Senate.
He captured the national spotlight in 2004 when he defeated Democrat and then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle by a mere 524 votes. Two years earlier, he barely lost to Sen. Tim Johnson, who holds South Dakota's other seat in the chamber.
Thune has since ascended in the Republican party ranks and is considering a run for president in 2012.