By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press
MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest supporters, announced on Sunday that he would run for his pledge not to run for a third term.
Johnson announced his decision via email two days after a pair of Republicans with knowledge of his decision told The Associated Press he was on the verge of making a bid. Over the past year, Johnson has been a leading voice in downplaying the Jan.6, 2021 riot, the Capitol and the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to remaining a staunch supporter of Trump.
The race is sure to be one of the most contested in the country next year in purple Wisconsin. President Joe Biden won the state by less than 21,000 votes in 2020 after an equally narrow victory for Trump in 2016. Johnson took almost 5 points in 2010, his first run for office, and then a little more. by 3 points in 2016. Both times he beat Democrat Russ Feingold.
Johnson’s announcement that he will stand for re-election came a day after Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota said he would run for a fourth term. No further Senate retirement is likely beyond the five Republicans and one Democrat, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who have already announced their intention to step down.
Johnson, 66, had long said he preferred to serve only two terms and pledged in 2016 not to run for a third time.
But Johnson rescinded the engagement before announcing his re-election bid, saying circumstances had changed after Democrats won the White House and control of Congress.
“As much as I would like to retire quietly, I don’t think I should,” Johnson wrote in an op-ed announcing his re-election bid. He said the response to the coronavirus pandemic also played a role in his decision to run again.
Johnson, who contracted COVID-19 in October 2020 and is unvaccinated, questioned the effectiveness of the vaccines and lobbied for unproven treatments. As recently as last week, Johnson told Tory Radio, “Why do we think we can create something better than God in terms of fighting disease? Why do we assume that the body’s natural immune system is not the wonder it really is? “
Johnson espoused conspiracy theories related to last year’s Capitol raid that attempted to blame Trump supporters for what happened.
Johnson has since downplayed the violence, saying it “doesn’t sound like an armed insurgency to me.”
Just before the United States Capitol was stormed a year ago, Johnson objected to the Arizona Electoral College vote count. Last year, he told Republicans who control the Wisconsin legislature that they should take control of the federal election. Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the AP on Friday that there was “no chance” the legislature would take over the allocation of the 10-vote presidential voters in the United States. Status in 2024.
Johnson said he did not make the decision to run again lightly.
“Having already experienced an increasing level of vitriol and false attacks, I certainly don’t expect better treatment in the future,” he said in his announcement.
Johnson said he never voted thinking about his re-election.
“An extension of this promise is that I don’t behave worrying about my re-election,” he wrote. “When re-election isn’t your primary motivation, those are easy promises – and I have faithfully done so.”
Johnson’s opponent won’t be known this time until after an August 9 primary. Several prominent and well-funded Democrats are running, including Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, who seeks to become the state’s first black senator; Alex Lasry, manager of the Milwaukee Bucks; State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Outagamie County Director Tom Nelson.
“The only people celebrating Ron Johnson’s announcement are his donors and the special interest groups he has repeatedly bailed out,” Barnes said in a statement. “Let’s get to work and retire this failed senator. “
Barnes, Godlewski, Nelson and other Democrats criticized Johnson for breaking his promise to serve only two terms.
Johnson’s decision also has ripple effects on the Wisconsin governor’s race. Kevin Nicholson, a former Marine who ran for the US Senate and lost in the GOP primaries in 2018, has said he will run for governor if Johnson seeks re-election.
Nicholson had focused on running for the Senate. His website urges his supporters to “help Kevin take back Washington.” In a series of tweets on Sunday, Nicholson said it was no secret that he was considering a gubernatorial candidacy and would announce a decision soon.
Earlier this week, former U.S. Representative Sean Duffy withdrew from the Senate or governor race.
History is on Johnson’s side in the midterm election. The party that does not hold the White House usually wins seats in the midterm legislative elections. Former President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, for example, lost 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate in 2010.
Johnson, who emerged from the Tea Party movement in 2010, has long aligned himself with Trump’s uncompromising policies and policies. The two have remained close after Trump’s defeat, with Trump in April approving Johnson for a third term and encouraging him to run.
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