In a column for NY Magazine's Intelligencer, political analyst Ed Kilgore suggested that Republicans shouldn't get too excited by reports that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI ) is leaning towards running for re-election this year.
According to Kilgore, despite being an incumbent, Johnson is not a lock for re-election after becoming so closely associated with former president Donald Trump and due to his controversial comments about Covid-19 health protocols.
As Kilgore notes, Johnson's bid could put another GOP seat in the Senate in play, joining Pennsylvania and North Carolina where two Republicans are retiring.
Pointing out that the Oshkosh Republican previously pledged to only serve two terms before returning to the private sector, Kilgore said his four years of backing Trump could come back to haunt him with Wisconsin voters.
"Johnson will be a major target for Democrats. To put it simply, he’s not the sort of lawmaker that battleground states tend to elect and then keep reelecting. He’s sort of a cross between a local chamber of commerce president whose views of government and fiscal policy were formed in the 1950s, and a right-wing talk show host in a very small market," he wrote before noting the Wisconsin Republican has transitioned from "a classic throw-the-bums-out Tea Party candidate when first elected in 2010, to becoming a MAGA crank today."
What should concern Johnson and Republicans, Kilgore explained, is the lawmaker's standing with the voters in a recent poll that showed that he is wildly unpopular.
Admitting "he’s not a pol who should be underestimated," Kilgore wrote that Johnson has previously been the recipient of good luck when it came to being elected -- but that his luck may have run out.
"Certainly the field of viable Democrats competing to oppose Johnson (notably Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes; state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski; Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry; and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson) indicates some confidence his time is finally up," he explained. "And his act may be wearing thin on voters. A November 2021 poll by the respected Marquette Law School outfit placed Johnson’s favorability ratio underwater at 36-42, and gave him a reelect number of only 38 percent."
Kilgore suggested, "... this is Wisconsin, where the one sure thing is that statewide races will be competitive, expensive, and often vicious. It’s not a bad environment for a loud and proud yahoo like Ron Johnson," before pointing out the New Republic’s Daniel Strauss assertion that "Republicans privately roll their eyes at Johnson," and with Kilgore chiming in to write, "they [Republicans] will go to the mats for him, and control of the Senate, along with Joe Biden’s ability to get his judicial and executive-branch nominees confirmed, may depend on whether Democrats can succeed where [former Senator Russ] Feingold failed."
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