SIOUX FALLS, S.D., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Incumbent Democrat Tim Johnson on Wednesday appeared to have eked out a narrow victory over President George W. Bush's handpicked challenger, Rep. John Thune, in South Dakota's U.S. Senate race.
With 100 percent of the vote counted, Johnson had 50 percent of the vote compared with 49 percent for Thune but the candidates were separated by fewer than 500 votes out of more than 247,000 cast. A recount was likely.
Gov. Bill Janklow captured South Dakota's only House seat and Republican Mike Rounds won the governor's mansion.
The Senate race, one of the closest in state history, has been viewed as a proxy fight between Bush and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
A Johnson spokesman early Wednesday predicted outstanding votes were from Democratic-leaning areas Indian reservations were still out.
Bush convinced Thune to abandon a gubernatorial bid to take on Johnson. The president made five trips to South Dakota on Thune's behalf during the campaign, two in just four days as the election approached.
In the House race, pitting the Republican four-term governor against Democrat Stephanie Herseth, who was running her first race, Janklow captured 54 percent to Herseth's 45 percent. Janklow got into the race to keep former Sen. Larry Pressler from winning the GOP nomination in the primary.
In declaring victory in the House race, Janklow sounded a patriotic theme and pledged to address the "awesome task" before Congress.
"I hold no illusions I can go to Washington and change the face of Washington," Janklow said, adding that such issues as health care, education, energy policy and homeland security must be addressed.
"The work of America is never finished," he said, urging voters to keep him focused on the promises he made during the campaign. "Promises mean nothing. In this country, it's performance that counts.
In the four-way governor's race, Rounds garnered 57 percent of the vote to 42 percent for Democrat Jim Abbott.
Pundits had agreed voter turnout would be the key to the outcome. The Secretary of State's Office projected voter turnout at 75 percent, compared with 58.8 percent in the 1998 midterm elections. Both Johnson and Thune supporters spent the final days of the campaign exhorting voters to participate.
Neither Johnson nor Thune appeared at their respective victory parties Tuesday night.
Secretary of State Joyce Hazeltine asked county auditors not to process absentee ballots until after the polls close to ensure no one votes both absentee and in person. In the past, absentee ballots have been placed in the ballot box during the day.
Also slowing the count was a computer glitch in Davison County where the count had to be halted.
The campaign has been expensive. Johnson raised nearly $6.38 million while Thune raised just less than $4.4 million.