Ellsworth Stays Open
WASHINGTON — The base-closing commission voted Friday to keep open Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota — rejecting the Pentagon’s plan to close it — as the panel labored toward conclusion of a politically delicate task that has brought alternating sighs of relief and exasperation in communities across America.
The surprise decision was a setback for Pentagon leaders, a blessing for South Dakotans who feared losing about 4,000 jobs, and a victory for Sen. John Thune and the state’s other politicians who lobbied vigorously to save the base. Sen. Thune, a freshman Republican, unseated then-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle partly on the strength of his claim he could help save the base.
John Thune’s achievement would be a huge one even for a four-term senator.