Sen. Ron Johnson leaves a Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. | AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Sen. Ron Johnson hasn’t decided whether he will run for reelection next year, but he already has the most powerful endorsement in Republican politics: former President Donald Trump’s.
Johnson, who was first elected in the 2010 Republican wave and won a closely contested reelection in 2016, has not said whether he will seek a third term and has emphasized multiple times in recent months that he plans to take his time making the decision. But Trump gave him his backing in a statement released through his leadership PAC, Save America PAC, on Thursday.
“Even though he has not yet announced that he is running, and I certainly hope he does, I am giving my Complete and Total Endorsement to Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin,” Trump said in the statement. “He is brave, he is bold, he loves our Country, our Military, and our Vets. He will protect our Second Amendment, and everything else we stand for. It is the kind of courage we need in the U.S. Senate.”
“He has no idea how popular he is,” Trump added. “Run, Ron, Run!”
Wisconsin is likely to be one of the most competitive states on the Senate map next year as Democrats defend their fragile 50-50 majority and try to flip several GOP-held seats. Several Democrats are already in the race, including Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and Milwaukee Bucks Executive Alex Lasry. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes are also seen as potential candidates.
Five Republican senators have already announced they are retiring, creating a handful of open GOP seats with competitive primaries. But Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have not yet announced reelection campaigns, and both have said they’re in no rush to make their final decision on whether to run.
“I’ve got a long time to decide,” Johnson told POLITICO earlier this month.
Wisconsin is one of Democrats best pickup opportunities on the Senate map after President Joe Biden carried it in November. But Johnson won an upset victory in 2016 for a second term despite being considered a longshot in his rematch against former Sen. Russ Feingold. In a twist, some Democrats are hoping he runs again after Johnson has aligned himself with Trump and made headlines for controversial statements about the election and the insurrection at the Capitol.