Wadhams’ quest for presidential Big Kahuna centers on South Dakota

Once upon a time, when Colorado GOP kingpin Dick Wadhams was referred to as “Rove 2.0”, the Las Animas political operative was on a fast track to manage a presidential campaign.

U.S. Sen. George Allen’s racist “macaca” gaffe uttered at a Virginia re-election campaign stop may have derailed then-campaign manager Wadham’s direct trajectory toward the Big Kahuna. But long ties to a darkhorse 2012 Republican presidential candidate may give him another shot at a run at the White House.

Conservative U.S. Sen. John Thune is considering a long-shot bid at the GOP presidential nomination, according to the South Dakota press and national political pundits.

Jennifer Duffy of the influential Cook Political Report says that given all of the important steps that Thune has taken, “he is a player.

“What helps his seniority quest is that Republicans are a shrinking party,” she said.

Because of what’s happening within the Republican Party, people are paying more attention to what Thune says. He, in turn, makes it easier by being available, Duffy said.

“There is a vacuum out there. This is a party looking for new voices, fresh faces, and if Thune chooses, he could fill that void a bit. As he rises in seniority, people pay more attention to what it is he is saying,” Duffy said.

Do all roads lead to Sioux Falls? Maybe for Wadhams.

In 2004, Wadhams engineered a surprise victory for the telegenic Thune over then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle. That, and a willingness to engage in the black political arts of aggressive communications, fake grassroots groups and psyching out reporters, earned Wadhams a fearsome national reputation that hasn’t quite translated into victory in Colorado’s more pedestrian body politic.

Will Wadhams duck out of his duties leading the Colorado Republican Party for the lure of prolific fundraiser Thune’s growing $4.4 million campaign war chest and another shot at national fame? Stay tuned.

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Wendy Norris

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