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Sen. Ron Johnson Sounds Like A 2022 Candidate, But Says He Isn't One Yet

Chuck Quirmbach
Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson speaks at the annual "Chicken Burn" Sunday in Wauwatosa.

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson continues to tell news reporters that he's undecided about running for a third Senate term next year. But he continues to talk like a potential candidate, when appearing before the GOP faithful.

That was the case Sunday in Wauwatosa, at an annual backyard picnic hosted by the Wisconsin Conservative Digest.

For next year's elections, the Republican lawmaker urged the GOP to field candidates in every state legislative and Congressional contest, saying a similar attempt helped Republican turnout in last year's races.

"We need to have a Republican on every line of the ballot. We can't let any Democrat run unopposed," Johnson said.

Chuck Quirmbach
Sen. Johnson talks with an audience member, prior to Sunday's speech.

Johnson also talked issues, including critical race theory, which holds, in part, that the law and legal institutions function to create and maintain inequalities between whites and non-whites. Johnson told the predominantly white audience that the theory should not be taught in the public schools.

"The good news is if you don't want your children, our children, taught critical race theory, they shouldn't be taught critical race theory, and we can do something about it," Johnson said. "Until the next election, show up at the school boards and make sure your school board knows, do not teach that crap to our kids!"

During a brief interview with two news reporters, WUWM asked Johnson if his presence at the GOP event is a sign he's running for re-election in 2022.

"I have plenty of time to make that decision," Johnson said. "Are you guys, just can't wait to have a U.S. Senate campaign start up here in the summer of 2021? I don't think there are many Wisconsinites (who feel that way.) Right now the only people that really have a vested interest in me deciding one way or the other are campaign consultants."

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A screengrab from a current ad, criticizing Johnson's approach to taxing the wealthy.

Others have an interest, too, including activists opposed to Johnson. One quizzed him at the end of Sunday's speech, about his willingness to raise taxes on the rich.

The exchange went like this:

Unidentified Man: "Would you support a tax on the ultra-wealthy? As one of Wisconsin's richest..."

Johnson: "There is a tax on the ultra-wealthy."

Man: "What is that tax?"

The exchange then ended, and the man left. Johnson departed the picnic moments later.

The discussion played off a current TV ad from the progressive group, which says, "Ron Johnson doesn't want the 1% to pay their fair share, because he's one of them."

It is criticism the Senator is expected to hear more often, if he runs in 2022.

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.
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