/Sen. Ron Johnson announces run for reelection amid controversy over vaccine statements

Sen. Ron Johnson announces run for reelection amid controversy over vaccine statements

Johnson was first elected to the Senate in 2010.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., announced on Sunday that he will run for a third term in the Senate, after months of teasing a run.

“During the 2016 campaign, I said it would be my last campaign and final term. That was my strong preference, and my wife’s—we both looked forward to a normal private life,” Johnson wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion article published Sunday morning, which he also shared on his campaign Twitter account.

“Neither of us anticipated the Democrats’ complete takeover of government and the disastrous policies they have already inflicted on America and the world, to say nothing of those they threaten to enact in the future.

“Nor did we anticipate the pandemic, the government’s failed response to it, the loss of freedom that has resulted, and the tyrannical approach taken by the elites who have created and maintained a state of fear that allows them to exercise control over Americans’ lives.”

Johnson said in the piece that “countless people have encouraged me to run.”

Johnson was first elected to the Senate in 2010 after a career in plastics manufacturing. He is the chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and also serves on the Senate committees on Foreign Relations; the Budget; and Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

In recent months, Johnson has made controversial statements on COVID-19 vaccines and immunity, including recently saying in an interview, “Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combating disease?” (Many major religious figures, including Pope Francis, have encouraged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.)

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Johnson has not been vaccinated for COVID-19.

The Democratic primary for Senate has 12 candidates, including current Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. Three other Republicans have also declared candidacy, according to a rundown of candidates from PBS Wisconsin.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee quickly endorsed Johnson’s reelection bid, with the group’s chairman and former Florida Sen. Rick Scott writing in a statement, “While Wisconsin Democrats trip over themselves to prove who’s more liberal, Senator Johnson continues to demand accountability in Washington and deliver results for Wisconsinites.”

Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman Paul Farrow praised Johnson’s announcement, writing in a statement, “Grassroots Republicans are enthusiastically backing Senator Johnson’s bid for re-election and are committed to doing the hard work to make it happen… America needs a check on the failed policies of the Biden administration and Wisconsin will make sure that happens by sending Ron Johnson’s independent leadership back to Washington.”

On the other side of the aisle, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a short digital ad criticizing Johnson.

“Johnson is doing nothing in the Senate except looking out for himself, helping his rich political donors and hurting Wisconsities in the process,” spokesperson Amanda Sherman Baity said in an accompanying statement.

Mandela Barnes’ campaign quickly responded to Johnson’s announcement, writing in a fundraising email, “This is going to be one of the most competitive campaigns in the country, and it’s a must-win race if we’re going to protect and expand the Democratic majority in the Senate.”

Johnson’s announcement comes days after another high-profile Republican senator, John Thune of South Dakota, announced his campaign for reelection on Thursday.