WASHINGTON – South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson will face his constituents for the first time since suffering a brain hemorrhage last December, making a long-awaited public appearance in his home state later this month.
Johnson, a Democrat, will appear in Sioux Falls on Aug. 28, his office announced Thursday. He is expected to return to the Senate in September.
A release from Johnson's office said the event will be "a welcome home celebration in which Sen. Johnson will personally thank the people of South Dakota for their support."
The senator has been recovering at hospitals and in his Fairfax, Va. home since he suffered the hemorrhage. He has been undergoing speech therapy and is expected to use a scooter to get around in the Capitol.
The public has only had glimpses of the senator in posed pictures released by his office.
In a written statement released by his office earlier this month, Johnson said his doctors had cleared him for travel.
"I know my return has taken longer than some people have liked — count me among them," he said in the statement.
After remaining quiet for many months, Republicans have recently begun to publicly discuss Johnson's re-election bid next year. Two Republicans have said they would seek the seat: Republican State Rep. Joel Dykstra and Sam Kephart, a self-employed Republican businessman.
Johnson, who won re-election in 2002 by just 524 votes, was considered a top GOP target before he became ill last year. He has not indicated whether he will run again, but Senate colleagues have held multiple fundraisers, raising $1.3 million for him by the end of June.
Johnson, 60, was rushed from his Senate office to George Washington University Hospital after becoming disoriented on a conference call with reporters in December. He underwent emergency surgery for arteriovenous malformation, a condition that causes arteries and veins in the brain to grow abnormally large, become tangled and sometimes burst.
He was stricken a month after elections that gave the Democrats a one-seat majority in the Senate.