Former President Trump called on Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to run for reelection as he mulls running for a third term.
Johnson has yet to declare if he’ll run again next year in one of the country’s marquee Senate races given his previous pledge to only serve two terms. Trump said Johnson, a top Senate ally of his, would have his “Complete and Total Endorsement” should he mount a campaign.
“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 said in a statement Thursday. “Run, Ron, Run!”
Trump’s urging comes as Johnson publicly says he’s undecided on whether he will run next year. The Wisconsin Republican said in March that retiring after the end of his second term is “probably my preference now.”
“That pledge is on my mind, it was my preference then, I would say it’s probably my preference now,” Johnson said, referring to his earlier two-term vow. “I’m happy to go home.”
However, Johnson has also added a caveat when speaking about his pledge to only serve a total of 12 years in the Senate, noting the promise was made when Democrats did not hold full control of Washington.
The Wisconsin Senate race is a cornerstone of both parties’ strategies to control the next Senate. The chamber is currently split 50-50, with Democrats holding a majority due only to Vice President Harris’s tie-breaking vote.
The Badger State has asserted itself as a top battleground in recent cycles, with Trump winning it narrowly in 2016 by under 1 percentage point while Johnson won reelection by about 3 points. However, President Biden won Wisconsin last year by just over 20,000 votes.
Johnson has emerged as a controversial figure in the Senate over a slate of divisive comments, including in January when he said that he did not feel unsafe during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot but might have felt the opposite if Black Lives Matter protesters or far-left antifa activists had demonstrated there.
A number of Democrats have already jumped into the 2022 Wisconsin Senate race, including Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and Marshfield radiologist Gillian Battino. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski (D) and Rep. Ron Kind (D) are also considering bids.