Elections

‘I’d Rather Do Something Else’: Ron Johnson Drops Another Retirement Hint

Screenshot via Facebook/Wendy Bell Radio

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson offered another hint about his future election plans as Democrats eye his seat ahead of the 2022 midterms.

“We’re weighing the pros and cons,” Johnson told radio host Wendy Bell on Wednesday, when asked whether or not he would seek a third term in office. Johnson, first elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave, has repeatedly mulled retirement, and cast doubt on whether or not he is the right candidate to run for the Wisconsin Senate seat.

During the interview, Johnson praised George Washington as “somebody who didn’t want the job.”

“I think that’s actually one of the things people that do support me in Wisconsin see in me,” he continued. “They realize I’d rather be somewhere else. I’d rather do something else. I don’t want— it’s not that I want to be a U.S. senator. I’m not seeking the title.”

Johnson has suggested on multiple occasions that he may not run for Senate again in 2022. After winning his 2016 election against Democrat Russ Feingold, he promised that he would not run for a third term.

“That pledge is on my mind, it was my preference then, I would say it’s probably my preference now,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal on March 5. (RELATED: ‘Run, Ron, Run’: Trump Endorses Sen. Ron Johnson Before He Even Announces He’s Running)

He described himself as “undecided” during a June 3 appearance at the Milwaukee Press Club.

Johnson told radio host Lisa Boothe in July that he “may not be the best candidate. I wouldn’t run if I don’t think I could win, if I don’t think I was the best person to be able to win.”

“You see what the media’s doing to me,” he added at the time. Johnson has been criticized for questioning the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as well as his support for former President Donald Trump’s challenging of the 2020 election results.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is the highest-profile Democratic challenger to Johnson, although he is one of eight candidates running in his party’s primary. Democrats view his seat as a pickup opportunity, since he won reelection in 2016 by less than 4% and President Joe Biden won Wisconsin in 2020.

Johnson would be the second Republican senator in a state Biden won to retire in 2022. Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey announced in October 2020 that he would not seek re-election. Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher, who has more than $2 million on hand, would be a likely Republican candidate for the seat if Johnson does not seek re-election.