Nov 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Ron Johnson wins re-election in Wisconsin Senate race

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) greets people during a campaign stop

Sen. Ron Johnson greets people during a campaign stop on October 8 in Muskego, Wisconsin. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson clinched victory against Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin’s Senate race, the Associated Press reported.

Why it matters: Johnson's victory underscores the strength of the conservative movement in the Badger State, a pivotal battleground of the midterm elections.

The big picture: Wisconsin is one of the most important states this cycle and was considered a toss-up, per the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rating. Polls showed Johnson and Barnes in a tight race in the final weeks before the election.

  • Johnson, 67, was running for his third term, while Barnes, 35, was seeking his first term as senator after serving as the state’s lieutenant governor.
  • Republicans, in the final weeks before the election, flooded airways and slammed Barnes, who supported ending cash bail, as being soft on crime.

State of play: Johnson was largely viewed as one of the most vulnerable senators seeking re-election in 2022. He’s been entangled in controversy and drew criticism for pushing former President Trump's false claims about the 2020 election and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Barnes supported a number of progressive policies, including "Medicare for All" and the Green New Deal.
  • He also earned endorsements from progressive figures, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  • Wisconsin Democrats coalesced around Barnes late in the state’s primary, when his three top competitors dropped out of the race.

Between the lines: Wisconsin, a true battleground state, propelled Trump to victory in 2016, while Biden eked out victory there in 2020.

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