GOP Senator Ron Johnson Defends Running for Third Term, Says Country Being Torn Apart

Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson recently released campaign ads that stated he is seeking reelection for a third term claiming because "it feels like our country is being torn apart."

Although previously pledging not to exceed two terms, Johnson's new television ads frame his reelection campaign as fixing a broken country.

"That's not how it felt when I ran in 2016," Johnson says, speaking directly to the camera in the ad. "Back then, I intended to serve a second term and go home. But now with Democrats in total control, our nation is on a very dangerous path."

According to Johnson's campaign spokesman Dylan Lefler, the ads will run on both broadcast and cable stations across Wisconsin for the next few weeks and are part of a six-figure media buy.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee hit back at Johnson for breaking his pledge and painting him as an out-of-touch millionaire in their own campaign ads. These ads, which the committee said it is spending five figures on and will run across several cable stations in select cities across the state, claim Johnson "has been looking out for himself."

The Democratic ad also mentions Johnson's support for a 2017 tax bill. According to a ProPublica report, the provision Johnson championed resulted in his campaign megadonors receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in tax deductions.

Johnson's spots reference past news events, including killings in Milwaukee, the Kenosha fire during the 2020 protests and the Waukesha Christmas parade when a man drove his SUV through the event killing six people. Johnson's ad also shows photos of President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while also referencing illegal immigration, defunding police, increased crime, sex trafficking and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, arguing the country's disorder.

"It's all leading to a weaker America," Johnson said.

Sen. Ron Johnson Reelection
Although he previously said he would only serve two terms, Senator Johnson said he would seek reelection. Above, Johnson speaks at a news conference with Republican senators to discuss the origins of COVID-19 on June 10, 2021, in Washington, DC. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Wisconsin is expected to be one of the most expensive and hotly contested states in the country with control of the U.S. Senate at play. There is a large field of Democratic candidates fighting both to win the divided August 9 primary and take hits at Johnson along the way.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party opened a similar line of attack painting Johnson as an out-of-touch millionaire, buying billboards across the state Monday that attack Johnson for paying relatively little in state income taxes in 2017.

The election this year is expected to favor Republicans, as the party not in control of the White House in midterm elections typically fares well.

But Johnson enters the race with low poll numbers in a swing state that former President Donald Trump won by just under 23,000 votes in 2016 and lost by just under 21,000 in 2020. Trump is a strong backer of Johnson and last year encouraged him to run for a third term.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kenosha Fire
GOP Senator Ron Johnson cited the Kenosha protests as a reason he's seeking a third reelection, despite previously promising to run only twice. Above, leaking diesel fuel from a burning garbage truck leaves a trail of fire in front of a protester during a second night of rioting on August 24, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images