Though perhaps not much of a surprise, U.S. Senator Tim Johnson sent an email letter to supporters today expressing his support for Rick Weiland to fill his seat in the 2014 election.

Weiland is the only Democrat who has declared and is running for Johnson's seat.  Four Republicans have announced they are running: Former Governor Mike Rounds, Dr. Annette Bosworth, state Rep. Stace Nelson and state Sen. Larry Rhoden.

In the email, Johnson compares Weilands chances to his own in previous elections - and likes them:

"Most pundits believe that former Republican Governor Mike Rounds is a virtual cinch.  Just like my first opponent Dale Bell was in 1986, just as Senator Larry Pressler was in 1996, just as Congressman John Thune was in 2002.  But the pundits were wrong in all three of those races, and I believe they will be wrong in 2014 once again," Johnson wrote. "I've known Rick Weiland and his family for decades, starting when he was a student at USD, and got to know him better during the fifteen years that he spent working as a top aide to Tom Daschle.  He is smart, hard-working, and perhaps most important, unafraid to take on the powerful special interests that have far too much influence in Washington, D.C."

Click here and here to read the full letter.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Tom Daschle's replacement, is said not to be in favor of Weiland's candidacy.

A recent poll by GOP leaning Harper Polling notes that in a head to head race, Rounds would defeat Weiland 52 to 38 percent with 10 percent undecided.

Weiland unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. House Democratic nomination in 1996 and 2002. From 1997 to 2001 he served in the Clinton administration as the FEMA Region VIII Director.