Wisconsin Democrats-- and Democrats everywhere who are paying attention to the Wisconsin senate race this year-- all agree that Ron Johnson is one of the absolute worst senators and that he's got to go. That makes nominating the right person to take him on crucial. Only one of the top candidates has a real chance to beat him in a general election, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. The two wealthy establishment Dems-- Alex Lasry and Sarah Godlewski wouldn't stand a chance and tiptoe-around-the-issues Mandela Barnes offers the GOP too much damaging ammo to win a general.
Last week, after we had compared Wisconsin's two worst U.S. senators in history, Ron Johnson and Joe McCarthy, state Senator Chris Larson told me that "both senators have a long history of playing the press. Eventually in McCarthy's era, the press realized they were being had and stopped going along with the sham. Over the last year, many in the mainstream press have started to pick up on the same scam by Ron Johnson. What's dangerous is that the press has been so diminished in America that too many still believe what Johnson says, regardless of how dangerous or wrong it is. Our work is cut out for us in Wisconsin to ensure the public knows what's really going on."
This morning, writing for The Hill, Tal Axelrod noted that both parties are eager to see Johnson, who hasn't announced yet, run for a third term. "Democrats view him as vulnerable, pointing to provocative comments on the coronavirus, 2020 election, racial justice protests and more, and are eager to take another crack at him. Republicans see in Johnson a battle-tested incumbent who has twice proven his mettle in a key swing state. Should Johnson run, whichever side is right about him would have a leg up in Wisconsin’s hyper-competitive Senate race, where a victory could be key to controlling the entire upper chamber, which is currently split 50-50."
One Democratic Party consultant in Wisconsin put it like this: "Ron Johnson is what you get when QAnon and the Tea Party have a baby. And I hope that he does run. His candidacy makes the race far more competitive for Democrats." Another Wisconsin Democratic operative added that "One of the reasons that Ron Johnson is so tantalizing for Democrats is because he's probably the only candidate that could make this race a more than 4- or 5-point race. He could be just flushed out. I think other undefined Republicans, it might be tighter just because they're not known in the way Ron Johnson is." And what he means by "known" is that Johnson is an extremist who keeps getting caught in serious lies-- like "mouthwash has been proven to kill the coronavirus" and that sunspots are more likely to contribute to climate change than human behavior... and that Trump won the 2020 election and that the insurrectionists on Jan 6 were praiseworthy and "love this country." Axelrod wrote that "Democrats suggest Johnson’s remarks make him unpalatable to voters in a purple state. In a Marquette Law School poll released in November, just 38 percent of voters said they’d vote to reelect him, while 52 percent said they’d prefer someone else."
He hasn't announced if he'll run again or not-- he had pledged to only serve for 2 terms in the past-- but he keeps fundraising and keeps teasing an impending announcement.
Blue America has enthusiastically endorsed Tom Nelson and this afternoon he told us that "Democrats have always underestimated Ron Johnson. Ron Johson might be crazy, but he is not stupid. We cannot take anything for granted. We have to nominate the candidate best positioned to defeat Johnson. What the race will come down to is who can move the narrow sliver of independent voters their way. I can do it. Because I've done it before. Six times. I come from a red part of the state where I have won election six times as a legislator and as a county executive, the office i now hold. I live 23 minutes from Johnson's lake front home. His voters are my voters. When push comes to shove they'll come my way because when push comes to shove I put my constituents first, I vote their interest. Johnson has voted for the millionaires and billionaires time and again and he has voted against working families time and again. Whether it's tax cuts for the rich or championing outsourcing or not taking COVID seriously-- he doesn't care about us. He doesn't know how hard it is to live paycheck to paycheck, to pay for college or technical school, to afford healthcare. Ron Johnson. The jig is up."
Axelrod interviewed Nelson's campaign manager, Irene Lin, for his story. She told him that "For an incumbent senator, any time you're under 50 percent, you're in danger territory. Clearly he has been a very polarizing figure. I think if you’re a Democrat, you would definitely want to run against somebody like that... I do not underestimate Ron Johnson at all, because I think some Democrats think, 'Oh, he's just so crazy, of course we'll beat him,' which we said about Trump too. He absolutely could prevail for a third term because we know the environment for Democrats."
Please click on the Blue America Senate thermometer above and consider contributing to Tom Nelson's campaign. Replacing Johnson with him would be immense. Johnson is the definition of an entitled conservative with no regard for any interests beyond the contributor class. Nelson, a former Bernie delegate, is campaigning on Medicare for All and the Green New Deal (and has been endorsed by the Wisconsin Sunrise Movement).
The campaign flyer above lays out the basic platform priorities Nelson is running on. This is what he's talking with Wisconsin voters about. They are not the same as what any of the other candidates are running on-- from either party-- although some of the Democrats have started borrowing watered-down, vague versions of them.