No sooner had Sen. Tim Johnson announced his retirement Tuesday than a curious — well, maybe not-so-curious — website popped up.
"Draft Brendan Johnson," at draftjohnson.blogspot.com, aims to gather support for Tim Johnson's son, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, to run for his father's seat in 2014.
It's an interesting gambit, trading on much of the goodwill, reputation and name recognition the elder Johnson has with the Democratic Party, South Dakota and in Washington, D.C.
And a contest between Johnson and Republican former Gov. Mike Rounds, who has already announced his candidacy, would have some intrigue.
Let us now make an endorsement, but not for the candidate we think should win 583 days from today.
South Dakota voters deserve a race between experienced, serious candidates who can best represent the state's interests in Washington.
The rare opportunity of a vacant Senate seat should not be taken lightly. And it shouldn't go without a good contest.
Brendan Johnson might be the best candidate. But other names deserve recognition.
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin lost her House seat in 2010 to now-Rep. Kristi Noem. At the time, the loss was shocking but maybe not surprising. Many so-called "blue-dog Democrats" were swept out of office in the off-year elections by tea party favorites such as Noem.
In retrospect, South Dakota lost a smart, effective representative for reasons other than performance.
That Herseth Sandlin isn't in a leadership position in the state is, in some ways, a loss. But there are only so many jobs to go around.
A November battle between Rounds and Herseth Sandlin would be good for voters. There would be clear differences. There would be records to run on and examine. Both would rise to the occasion and both would challenge the other in ways they might not otherwise be.
The victor in that race would not waltz into office untested. The first accomplishment as senator would have been defeating his or her worthy opponent.
Other names also add to the intrigue. Former House candidate and Tim Johnson staffer Matt Varilek would also bring a continuity from Tim Johnson's office.
Some conservative groups are looking for alternatives to Rounds, and Noem herself has been mentioned as a possibility.
Could Noem vs. Herseth Sandlin II happen in 2014, this time on the Senate side?
Tim Johnson set a template. Whoever wins next year, we hope they can meet South Dakota's expectations.
— American News editorial board