Expect Ron Johnson to 'dial up the rhetoric' and double down on the 'craziness' in the midterms: journalist
Of all the GOP senators seeking reelection in the 2022 midterms, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is the only one who is doing so in a state that President Joe Biden won in 2020. However, journalist Sam Brodey, in an article published by the Daily Beast on January 13, doesn’t expect Johnson to move closer to the center but rather, predicts that he will only double down on MAGA extremism between now and November.
Johnson was first elected to the U.S. Senate as part of 2010’s red wave, which then-President Barack Obama described as a “shellacking” for his party. The Johnson of the Obama years pushed himself as a Club for Growth type of Republican — a hardcore fiscal conservative and a budget hawk who would fight to keep the United States’ federal deficit from growing.
But that was before he jumped on the Trump train. Johnson, who was reelected by about 3.5% when he defeated Democrat Russ Feingold in 2016, has reinvented himself as a MAGA culture warrior with a fondness for conspiracy theories. Never Trump conservative Charlie Sykes, a frequent guest on MSNBC and co-founder of The Bulwark, has had a lot to say about how much Johnson has changed since the Obama years.
“In the eyes of Sykes and others,” Brodey explains, “the Ron Johnson of this campaign is far different from the Ron Johnson of campaigns past. These days, he might be more aptly described as a midwestern Republican rooted in the far-right fever swamps. Johnson has spent much of his second term amplifying conspiracy theories and making outlandish claims, particularly about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccinations, January 6, and the investigations into Donald Trump.”
From promoting the Big Lie to pandering to far-right anti-vaxxers, Johnson has clearly been aiming his 2022 reelection campaign at the GOP’s lowest common denominator.
“As he faces a challenging campaign, Johnson is, if anything, expected to dial up the rhetoric that has made him one of the left’s most hated senators and an unlikely hero of the right,” Brodey observes. “His own record of proving doubters wrong — including those in his own party — has imbued him with a particularly defiant desire to stick it to his growing legions of critics, observers say.”
Sykes, Brodey notes, has become a “vociferous critic” of Johnson and isn’t expecting any moderation from him in 2022. The Never Trumper told the Beast, “This will be very much the Ron Johnson id. He’s going to let the freak flag fly.”
Although Sykes, a Wisconsin resident, voted for Johnson in 2010, he obviously won’t be voting for him in 2022.
When Brodey asked Sykes why Johnson has changed, the journalist responded, “I don’t really know. I used to have a number of theories, but they’ve all been overtaken by the craziness.”
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