With just one year before voters go to the polls for the 2022 midterm election, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has been coy about whether he will run again and an announcement out of his office this week has fueled more speculation he may walk away after two terms.
According to a report from Punchbowl News, Johnson deputy chief of staff Pat McIlheran has accepted a position with a Wisconsin-based conservative think tank after four years at Johnson's side. This marks the second key staff departure in recent weeks.
As Punchbowl reports, "McIlheran is the second senior aide to leave Johnson's staff in recent weeks, raising questions about whether the two-term senator will run again. Johnson, 66, hasn't announced his intentions on seeking reelection. He seems genuinely undecided about whether to do so."
McIlheran's announced departure comes on the heels of Johnson communications director Ben Voelkel leaving after four years in an effort to become Wisconsin's next lieutenant governor replacing current officeholder Mandela Barnes who is joining a crowded field and running for Johnson's seat no matter who the GOP candidate is.
A spokesperson for Johnson attempted to dismiss rumors Johnson, who has become one of Donald Trump's biggest defenders much to the dismay of some Wisconsin Republicans, is thinking of walking away, thereby handing Democrats a chance to pick up another seat in the U.S. Senate.
"Pat [McIllheran] taking advantage of this opportunity is not related to the Senator's reelection decision. The Senator has plenty of time to make it and he'll take that time. Drawing any conclusion is incorrect," spokesperson Alexa Henning told reporters.
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