By SCOTT BAUER, Related Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — After President Donald Trump misplaced his reelection bid, most Senate Republicans, his Justice Division and the courts dismissed or disputed his baseless claims a couple of “stolen election.” Not Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson.
The GOP senator used his chairmanship of the Senate Homeland Safety Committee to spotlight Trump’s allegations, claiming hundreds of thousands of Individuals “have actual, professional suspicions that this election was stolen” and worrying about “so many irregularities right here.”
That kind of fealty to Trump has endeared Johnson to the far-right base in his state, but it surely might show expensive if he decides to hunt a 3rd time period in 2022. As Johnson weighs whether or not to run once more, his embrace of Trump’s anti-democratic marketing campaign to overturn the election outcomes already has angered some mainstream Republican allies, and is poised to inspire Democrats who’ve ridden opposition to Trump to new energy within the state.
Observers observe that Johnson, who rose out of the tea social gathering motion greater than a decade in the past, has usually behaved like a senator from a solidly pink state. However November’s election demonstrated that Wisconsin, which Democrat Joe Biden received by fewer than 21,000 votes, is something however. The struggle for his seat will likely be among the many best races subsequent yr.
“I feel if the election have been every week from now he can be in a world of harm,” mentioned Fond du Lac County Republican Social gathering Chair Rohn Bishop. Bishop criticized fellow Republicans like Johnson who parroted claims of unlawful election exercise, whilst he stays a Johnson backer. However he notes that Johnson is susceptible to shedding reasonable voters vital to profitable.
“It could harm him with the suburban voters. … The election wasn’t stolen, and it’s exhausting to persuade folks they need to vote for you while you attempt to throw away their legally solid ballots.”
Johnson has lengthy been aligned with Trump’s hard-line insurance policies and politics. He led the push to analyze Biden’s son Hunter and infrequently broke with the White Home. Nonetheless, some Republicans have been stunned to see the senator lend credence to Trump’s post-election schemes, which included an try to throw out the ballots of 238,000 voters within the majority-Democratic areas of Milwaukee and Madison.
Johnson’s listening to on Dec. 16 to look into unfounded election fraud complaints largely perpetuated Trump’s baseless claims. And on Jan. 6, simply earlier than the U.S. Capitol was stormed, Johnson objected to counting the Electoral Faculty votes from Arizona.
The editor of the conservative web site Proper Wisconsin printed a scathing column hours earlier than the riot, saying that Johnson was on a “reckless path” by questioning the integrity of the election and that he ought to retire and would lose if he ran once more.
After the riot, Johnson didn’t vote to object. Nonetheless, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, referred to as for Johnson to resign for “stoking an rebellion.”
Johnson responded with a column within the newspaper calling the editorial “unhinged and uninformed.” The Journal Sentinel took the uncommon step of annotating his response, offering 19 footnotes with further context, truth checking and corrections.
The Wisconsin State Journal, the state’s second largest newspaper, has additionally referred to as for Johnson’s resignation, and the anti-Trump Republicans behind the The Lincoln Mission have focused Johnson for defeat, citing his assist for election conspiracy theories and evaluating him with disgraced former Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy.
Johnson stays standard with the GOP grassroots, a key issue as he mulls whether or not to run once more, mentioned GOP strategist Brian Reisinger, who labored on Johnson’s 2016 marketing campaign. He famous that Johnson has been capable of overcome naysayers who didn’t give him a lot of an opportunity of profitable, first towards then-incumbent U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold in 2010 and once more in a 2016 rematch.
“There’s lots of people who take a look at Ron Johnson, and so they see the political sturdiness that he’s had over time regardless of being a useless man strolling twice earlier than,” Reisinger mentioned.
Johnson in 2016 pledged to not search a 3rd time period, however backed off three years later, saying he needed to see how the 2020 election turned out. He has additionally mentioned he is contemplating working for governor in 2022.
Johnson, 65, has mentioned in current weeks that he has not but decided.
“My bias has at all times been (to serve) two phrases and go residence,” Johnson informed the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel final month earlier than Democrats received a pair of Georgia runoff elections to take majority management of the Senate. “That continues to be my desire, however on the identical time, the Senate is type of a firewall towards complete management by Democrats, which might be, I feel, a really dangerous factor for this nation.”
Johnson and his spokesperson Ben Voelkel declined to touch upon his plans.
Republicans have already got three Senate vacancies to defend. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio have mentioned they won’t run once more in 2022. GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who turns 89 in 2022, can also be on the poll, and two-term Missouri Republican Roy Blunt has not mentioned whether or not he’ll search a 3rd.
If Johnson retires, it possible can be a free-for-all on each side.
Plenty of Republicans are eyeing a run for both Senate or governor, relying on what Johnson does. Potential Republican Senate candidates embody U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy and Kevin Nicholson, who misplaced a 2018 Republican Senate main.
The record of Democratic hopefuls contains Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the state’s first Black lieutenant governor, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and state Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee.
Alex Lasry, the senior vice chairman to the Milwaukee Bucks who helped spearhead the profitable effort to get the 2020 Democratic Nationwide Conference in Milwaukee earlier than the coronavirus despatched the occasion almost completely on-line, can also be contemplating a run. Lasry is the son of billionaire hedge fund supervisor and Democratic bundler Marc Lasry and will doubtlessly self-finance his run.
One other potential candidate is Steven Olikara, founder and chief govt of the nonprofit Millennial Motion Mission. Outagamie County Govt Tom Nelson has already declared his candidacy.
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