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Johnson's decision to run may set up other tight races in Wisconsin Republican party

Posted at 5:22 PM, Jan 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-09 18:22:11-05

Back in 2016, Ron Johnson made a promise that you wouldn't see his name again on a ballot.

"I promised I would always tell you the truth. I'll never vote with reelection in mind. This is my final term," said Johnson more than half a decade ago, months before former President Trump took office and long before the pandemic.

Then, on Sunday morning, an announcement from a determined Johnson to serve another six years.

"I think Democrats in power in Washington have put us on a dangerous path," said Johnson on Fox News on Sunday morning. "And I think I'm in a position to help improve things. It really just boils down, it's that simple."

Critics of Johnson in the Wisconsin Democratic Party quickly responded to the decision, saying he's not serving the hard working people of the state.

"Johnson has made clear over and over that his top priority is helping himself," said Ben Wikler, the Chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "So it's not a surprise that he's broken his term limit pledge and decided to run for another six years so he can keep serving up tax breaks for his friends that hurt working class Wisconsinites."

Johnson is winding down his second term, and according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll, 42% of voters view him unfavorably. 54% of voters say they have little or no trust in him when it comes to the pandemic.

Johnson has questioned the safety of vaccines and opposed vaccine mandates.

Yet, there doesn't appear to be a serious threat waiting for him in a primary.

"I think Senator Johnson has a strong base of support in the Republican party, which should be more than enough to carry him through a primary," said Marquette Law School Professor Charles Franklin.

However, he may face a stronger challenge in a general election as polls show a dip in support among independents and more so among democrats.

Johnson's run, and likely firm control of the Senate primary in Wisconsin, may also stir things up for another high office.

"There is room now for a contested primary on the Republican side in that governor's race," said Franklin. "That could amplify some divisions we could see in the party."

Franklin suggested conservative businessman Kevin Nicholson, a 2018 Senate candidate, may now focus on challenging in the Republican primary for governor, where the field of candidates includes former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

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