- Republican Sen. Ron Johnson will run for a third term in office, which he announced in a WSJ op-ed.
- Johnson, first elected to office in 2010, pledged in 2016 to only serve for two terms in the Senate.
- Democrats are angling to win back the key seat in a state that President Joe Biden won in 2020.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — who was first elected in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave and previously pledged to serve for only two terms — will run for reelection to a third term in the upper chamber, which he announced in a Sunday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal.
“During the 2016 campaign, I said it would be my last campaign and final term. That was my strong preference, and my wife’s — we both looked forward to a normal private life. Neither of us anticipated the Democrats’ complete takeover of government and the disastrous policies they have already inflicted on America and the world, to say nothing of those they threaten to enact in the future,” he wrote.
He continued: “Nor did we anticipate the pandemic, the government’s failed response to it, the loss of freedom that has resulted, and the tyrannical approach taken by the elites who have created and maintained a state of fear that allows them to exercise control over Americans’ lives. … I believe America is in peril. Much as I’d like to ease into a quiet retirement, I don’t feel I should. Countless people have encouraged me to run, saying they rely on me to be their voice.”
The development gives the GOP its preferred candidate in the hotly-contested Midwestern swing state and comes after months of intense speculation about Johnson’s political future.
For months, the senator was coy about his intentions for the pivotal fall contest, which could determine who controls the Senate for the second half of President Joe Biden’s first term.
Many Republicans felt that Johnson would seek a third term in office, according to party sources who spoke with CNN in recent days.
GOP leaders — namely Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — had been pushing Johnson for months to pursue a reelection bid.
In November, Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would be best positioned to hold the seat for the GOP.
“Oh, it’s not just me, I think just about everybody I talk to. I mean the political pros believe that,” he told the newspaper.
Johnson — an accountant and businessman — is a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump and has a strong relationship with grassroots Republicans in the Badger State, which Biden narrowly won over the former president in the 2020 election.
The senator has attracted a wave of controversy in recent years, notably in stating that he “might have been a little concerned” if Black Lives Matters protestors had stormed the Capitol while expressing sympathy for the pro-Trump mob that broke into the apex of American government.
In the leadup to the 2020 presidential election, the senator — as chair of the Homeland Security Committee — pursued an aggressive probe regarding Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine. A report released in September of that year was unable to show that Hunter Biden’s role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company impacted US policy.
And last June, YouTube temporarily suspended Johnson for spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
Democrats — still smarting from the senator defeating former Sen. Russ Feingold in 2010 and 2016 — have been angling to beat him for years and have a full slate of party members who have launched campaigns in recent months.
The field of candidates includes Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes — who is seen as the frontrunner in the race — along with state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, and businessman Alex Lasry.
An internal poll released by the Barnes campaign on Friday showed him dominating the Democratic primary with 40% of the vote, followed by Lasry at 11%, Godlewski with 10%, and Nelson earning 8% of the vote, respectively.
The same poll also had Barnes and Johnson tied 43%-43% in a potential general election matchup.