Trump Ally and Skeptic Fill Out Republicans’ 2022 Senate Card

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Ron Johnson seeks another stint in competitive Wisconsin, while John Thune runs again in solid-red South Dakota

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Mr Johnson, who is 66 and vowed to retire once this term, made his announcement in an opinion column published on Sunday in Businesshala.

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“I believe America is in crisis,” Mr Johnson wrote. “As much as I want to rest in a quiet retirement, I don’t think I should.”

The former businessman has cast himself as an outsider and tried to position himself as a leading voice for fiscal restraint, while also embracing Mr Trump’s 2020 false claims of widespread election fraud . He has opposed the Covid-19 vaccine mandate and questioned the push. To vaccinate as many people as possible, citing potential safety concerns.

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In announcing his bid, he pointed to the pandemic and what he described as the government’s failed response, “criticizing the tyrannical approach taken by the elites, who have created and perpetuated the conditions of fear that make them feel like Americans.” Allows you to take control of life.”

Democrats are defending 14 Senate seats this year, compared with 20 for the GOP. non-partisan Cook’s political report is predictable That half a dozen would be highly competitive: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Mr Johnson’s decision to seek a third term made it clear that the incumbent would be running in four of those six states. North Carolina and Pennsylvania are exceptions and have congested primaries for both sides.

President Biden’s lax approval rating has Democrats worried about taking control of Congress, as the party holding the presidency traditionally loses seats in midterm elections. Moreover, voters are feeling squeezed by inflation and worried about uncertainty over the pandemic, even as the job market remains strong.

“Senate Republicans clearly feel upbeat at their chances of securing a majority,” said GOP adviser Alex Conant.

Reflecting the expected intensity of the race in Wisconsin, within hours of Mr Johnson’s announcement, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had launched a digital attack advertisement that it said was part of an initial five-figure campaign.

“In 2022, Wisconsinians will hold Ron Johnson accountable and elect another Democratic senator who will put the interests of our state’s working families first,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin President Ben Wickler said in a statement.

Senate No. 2 Republican Mr Thune made his announcement on Saturday, and is seen as a clear path to re-election. He has drawn the wrath of Mr Trump for pushing back the former president’s false election fraud claims. At the same time, he is popular among Senate Republicans and is seen as a leading contender to one day succeed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.).

In the weeks leading up to Mr Thune’s decision, his colleagues launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to encourage him to run again, people familiar with the effort said.

The 61-year-old angered Trump after the 2020 election when he predicted that any attempt to block ratification of Biden’s victory in a joint session of Congress would “go down like a shot dog.”

Mr Trump responded by calling for Mr Thune to be a primary challenger. He also accused Mr Thune of being a RINO, or “Republican in Name”, and urged South Dakota Republican Gov. Christie Noem to challenge him, something he refused to do.

Mr Johnson faces a tough road to retain his seat, with state polls showing him underwater. a Marquette Law School Poll At the end of October 38% of registered voters said they would vote to re-elect Mr Johnson, while 52% said they would support someone else.

Close to a dozen Democrats are jockeying ahead of an August primary to win the right to challenge Mr Johnson in the general election. based on initial fundraising figures, the top four Democrats in the race are Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and State Treasurer Sarah Godlevsky, as well as Alex Larry, the son of a billionaire hedge-fund manager who also co-owns the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, and Tom Nelson, of Green Bay. Top elected official in Southwest County.

With a significant number of swing voters, Wisconsin has elected both progressives and conservatives to statewide office. In 2018, it re-elected one of the chamber’s most liberal members, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, by nearly 11 percentage points, while only ousting conservative Republican Gov. Scott Walker from office. Mr Biden won Wisconsin by six-tenths of a percentage point in 2020, the third narrowest result nationwide.

Mr Johnson won his seat in 2010 defeating former Democratic senator Russ Feingold, a three-time incumbent. Mr Johnson won a rematch between the two men six years later, though his 2016 margin was narrow.

The state saw some of the first television commercials of the 2022 campaign cycle nearly a year ago, when Wisconsin’s Democratic Party raised more than $100,000 in places criticizing Mr Johnson.

Write John McCormick at [email protected]

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