Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters, said on Sunday he would seek re-election, avoiding a widely open GOP primary in the swing state tightly divided.
Johnson pledged in 2016 not to run for the third time, but he rescinded that pledge and started running again for months, saying circumstances have changed now that Democrats have full control.
Johnson, 66, has long said he prefers to retire after two terms.
Even with Johnson in the race, razor-thin Wisconsin is up for grabs with Senate majority control at stake. President Joe Biden won the state by less than 21,000 votes after Trump’s equally narrow victory in 2016.
Still, Republicans have reason to be optimistic about regaining control of the Senate 50-50. The party that does not hold the White House usually wins seats in the legislative midterm elections. Former President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, for example, lost 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate in 2010.
Johnson left the Tea Party movement in 2010, defeating U.S. Democratic Senator Russ Feingold that year and again in 2016. Johnson has long aligned himself with Trump’s intransigent policies and policies. He led the investigation to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter, and rarely broke with the White House.
Johnson became one of Trump’s loudest supporters in 2020, particularly after his electoral defeat, and that support continued after the insurgency on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Johnson held a hearing during which unfounded conspiracy theories of widespread election fraud were given a platform. He also espoused the Capitol Raid conspiracy theories that attempted to blame Trump supporters for what happened.
Just before the United States Capitol was stormed a year ago, Johnson objected to the Arizona Electoral College vote count.
Trump endorsed Johnson in April and encouraged him to run.
Johnson’s position angered many Wisconsin Tories, and the state’s two largest newspapers in Milwaukee and Madison have called for his resignation.
Johnson was also a strong voice for unproven COVID-19 treatments and he accused the medical establishment and health agencies of failing to explore and promote the use of relatively inexpensive drugs previously approved for other uses in as early interventions against the coronavirus.
Democrats in the running include Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes; Alex Lasry, manager of the Milwaukee Bucks; State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski; Outagamie County Director Tom Nelson; and Steven Olikara, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Millennial Action Project.
Many would-be Republican candidates waited for Johnson before deciding to run. Former U.S. Representative Sean Duffy announced last week (Jan.6, 2022) that he would not be running for the Senate or Governor. Former Navy Kevin Nicholson, who lost a Republican Senate primary in 2018, has said he will run for governor if Johnson seeks re-election.