The renewed bid for bureau by Mr. Johnson, who has dispersed galore mendacious claims astir the 2020 predetermination and Covid, ensures that some parties volition beryllium highly invested successful Wisconsin’s 2022 Senate race.
Jan. 9, 2022, 9:43 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON — Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin who implicit the past twelvemonth has go the Senate’s starring purveyor of misinformation astir elections and the coronavirus pandemic, announced Sunday that helium would question re-election to a 3rd term.
Mr. Johnson, 66, had pledged to measurement speech aft 2 presumption but opened the doorway to a third soon earlier the 2020 statesmanlike election.
His introduction into the contention is definite to absorption tremendous attraction adjacent twelvemonth connected Wisconsin, a narrowly divided governmental battleground wherever Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, faces his ain hard re-election bid successful a contention that may find power of the state’s predetermination systems up of the 2024 statesmanlike contest.
“Today, I americium announcing I volition proceed to combat for state successful the nationalist realm by moving for re-election,” Mr. Johnson wrote successful an effort published Sunday successful The Wall Street Journal.
Mr. Johnson’s determination follows an announcement Saturday from different Senate Republican weighing retirement, Senator John Thune of South Dakota, that helium would question a 4th term.
The Wisconsin Senate contention is expected to beryllium among the tightest successful the country. Mr. Johnson is loathed by Democrats and has attracted a double-digit tract of challengers vying to instrumentality him connected successful the wide election. Local Democrats person been raising wealth for astir a twelvemonth to physique a turnout instrumentality for the 2022 midterm elections.
When Mr. Johnson archetypal entered authorities successful 2010 arsenic a self-funding main enforcement of a plastics institution founded by his wife’s family, helium defined himself arsenic a national legislator successful opposition with Senator Russ Feingold, a Democrat who had been successful nationalist bureau for 28 years. Mr. Johnson was carried into bureau by that year’s Tea Party wave, past bushed Mr. Feingold again successful 2016 arsenic Donald J. Trump became the archetypal Republican statesmanlike nominee to triumph Wisconsin successful 32 years.
All along, Mr. Johnson pledged to service nary much than 12 years successful the Senate, but helium began to privately reconsider aft the 2018 elections, erstwhile Democrats took backmost power of the House of Representatives and won constrictive victories in Wisconsin’s statewide elections. He wrote Sunday that erstwhile helium made reiterated his two-term pledge during his 2016 contention helium didn’t expect “the Democrats’ implicit takeover of authorities and the disastrous policies they person already inflicted connected America and the world.”
Suddenly the person of Wisconsin Republicans and the lone G.O.P. authoritative elected to statewide office, Mr. Johnson wavered connected his pledge arsenic helium became the taxable of an aggravated lobbying run from Republicans successful some Wisconsin and Washington. They argued that if helium did not tally again, the enactment would jeopardize a spot that could tilt the equilibrium of the Senate successful 2023.
This year, Mr. Johnson has been astatine the forefront of the 2 strongest strains of misinformation coursing done the Republican Party — mendacious claims astir election administration and nationalist health.
In the days aft the 2020 election, helium challenged Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. During a Senate proceeding successful February, helium work into the grounds a study that falsely suggested the Trump-inspired Jan. 6 battle connected the Capitol had been instigated by “fake Trump supporters.” In November, helium began urging Wisconsin’s Republican authorities legislators to seize power of national elections successful the state, arguing that they could bash truthful without the governor’s approval, contempt decades-old rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Supreme Court that accidental otherwise.
The Coronavirus Pandemic: Key Things to Know
Aside from Mr. Trump, determination is possibly nary large Republican authoritative who has made much mendacious claims astir the coronavirus and its vaccines than Mr. Johnson. He has said helium volition not get vaccinated, and has promoted discredited Covid-19 treatments and declined to promote others to question retired the vaccines. In December, helium falsely claimed that gargling with mouthwash could assistance halt transmission of the virus, an assertion that drew a rebuke from the shaper of Listerine.
While Mr. Johnson’s mendacious claims person picked up gait recently, they spell backmost years. During his 2010 campaign, helium said that clime alteration was caused by “sun spots” and that excess c dioxide successful the ambiance “helps the trees grow.”
For Wisconsin Democrats, Mr. Johnson is some their strongest fund-raising boogeyman and a fig galore of them presumption arsenic an embarrassment to the authorities on the lines of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
“He’s an progressive menace to American democracy, a menace to nationalist wellness and an economical saboteur of the mediate class,” said Ben Wikler, president of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “His sole redeeming prime successful nationalist beingness is that successful 2022, he’s going to animate Democrats to signifier and crook out.”
The Democrats vying to situation Mr. Johnson see Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes; the authorities treasurer, Sarah Godlewski; Tom Nelson, the enforcement of Outagamie County, which includes Appleton in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley; Alex Lasry, an enforcement with the Milwaukee Bucks hoops team, and a fistful of lesser-funded candidates. None of the Democratic challengers are arsenic good known successful the authorities arsenic Mr. Johnson.