Madison, Wis. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of the former President Donald Trump The biggest supporters announced on Sunday that he would seek re-election on the battlefield, breaking his promise not to seek a third term.
Johnson announced his decision via email two days later. A pair of Republicans aware of his decision told the Associated Press that he was close to launching a bid. Johnson has been a leading voice over the past year in downplaying the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots and the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to remaining a vocal Trump supporter.
The race is set to be one of the hottest in the country next year at Purple Wisconsin. President Joe Biden won the state in 2020 by less than 21,000 votes, after a similarly narrow victory by Trump in 2016. Johnson won by nearly 5 points in 2010, his first run for office, and then in 2016 by just over 3 points. Both times he defeated Democrat Russ Feingold.
Johnson’s announcement that he would run again came a day after Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota said he would seek a fourth term. No other Senate retirements are likely beyond Vermont’s Senator Patrick Leahy, five Republicans and one Democrat, who has already announced plans to step down.
Johnson, 66, has long said his priority is to serve just two terms and promised not to run for a third time in 2016.
But Johnson rescinded the pledge to announce his re-election bid, saying circumstances had changed after Democrats won the White House and took control of Congress.
“As much as I want to rest in a quiet retirement, I don’t think I should,” Johnson wrote in an editorial announcing his reelection bid. He said the response to the coronavirus pandemic also played a part in his decision to run again.
Johnson, who contracted COVID-19 in October 2020 and has not been vaccinated, has cast doubt on the efficacy of the vaccines and pushed for unproven treatments. Just last week, Johnson said on Conservative Talk radio, “Why do we think we can create something better than God in terms of fighting disease? Why do we believe the body’s natural immune system isn’t really a miracle? “
Johnson has acknowledged conspiracy theories related to last year’s Capitol raid, an attempt to shift the blame for what happened away from Trump supporters.
Johnson has since downplayed the violence, saying that “it didn’t sound like an armed rebellion to me.”
Just before storming the US Capitol a year ago, Johnson objected to the Electoral College vote counting from Arizona. Last year, he told Republicans controlling the Wisconsin Legislature that he should take over control of federal elections. Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told AP. told On Friday that the legislature has “zero chance” to give the state 10 presidential electoral votes in 2024.
Johnson said he decided not to run again lightly.
“Having already experienced increasing levels of vitriol and false attacks, I certainly do not expect better treatment in the future,” he said in his announcement.
Johnson said he never voted with re-election in mind.
“The extension of that promise is that I don’t conduct myself worrying about re-election,” he wrote. “When re-election isn’t your primary motivation, those are easy promises – and I honestly have done that.”
Johnson’s opponent will not be known this time until after the August 9 primary. Several high-profile and well-funded Democrats are running, including Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, who wants to be the state’s first black senator; Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Larry; State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Outgame County Executive Tom Nelson.
“The only donors and corporate special interest groups celebrating Ron Johnson’s announcement are those he has repeatedly bailed out,” Barnes said in a statement. “Let’s get to work and retire this failed senator.”
Barnes, Godlevsky, Nelson and other Democrats faulty johnson Only for breaking his promise of completing two terms.
Johnson’s decision has also had an impact on the Wisconsin gubernatorial race. Kevin Nicholson, a former Marine who ran for the US Senate and lost in the GOP primary in 2018, has said he would run for governor if Johnson sought re-election.
But Nicholson was focused on running for Senate. His website urges supporters to “help Kevin get back to Washington.”
Earlier this week, former US Representative Sean Duffy leaned To run for Senate or Governor.
History is on Johnson’s side in the midterm elections. The party that does not have a White House usually wins seats in midterm congressional elections. For example, former President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party lost 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate in 2010.
Johnson, who exited the Tea Party movement in 2010, has long been associated with Trump’s hardline policies and politics. The two remained close after Trump’s defeat, with Trump backing Johnson for a third term in April and encouraging him to run.