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  Johnson intends to return to Senate
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Last EditedRP  Aug 29, 2007 03:04pm
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News DateWednesday, August 29, 2007 09:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionSen. Tim Johnson, speaking slowly and slurring some words more than eight months after experiencing a life-threatening brain hemorrhage, announced Tuesday to state residents: "I am back."

In his first public appearance since falling ill, the 60-year-old Democrat spoke for about 15 minutes to a cheering crowd at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. As the state's senior senator was brought out in a wheelchair, he waved his left arm to the crowd, then rose to his feet.

Johnson's face and his speech clearly showed the effects of the trauma, but he used his sense of humor to assure supporters he will return to the Senate as early as next week.

"Of course, I believe I have an unfair edge over most of my colleagues right now. My mind works faster than my mouth does. Washington would probably be a better place if more people took a moment to think before they spoke."

Two Republicans have said they will seek Johnson's seat: state Rep. Joel Dykstra and Sam Kephart, a self-employed businessman.

Kephart wished Johnson and his family well Tuesday but he didn't shy from taking shots, criticizing the senator's usually soft-spoken demeanor.

"It's not a time for quiet politics," Kephart said. "It's a time for building bridges and leading with your chin and taking risks."
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