This weekend Senators John Thune and Ron Johnson indicated they would seek reelection. Thune and Johnson were the final two Senators to announce their reelection plans.
The final two Senators to announce their reelection plans clarified their thinking this weekend.
- Senator John Thune (R-SD) announced on Twitter he will seek a fourth term Saturday.
- Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) used the Wall Street Journal‘s opinion pages to declare his bid for a third term Sunday morning.
- Thune, the Senate Minority Whip, surprisingly considered retirement after facing a barrage of attacks from defeated president Donald Trump. Trump derided Thune as “Mitch’s boy” and called for Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) to challenge him. Noem declined.
- Johnson, a former plastics CEO, won two upset victories against progressive former Senator Russ Feingold in 2010 and 2016. Johnson previously pledged to only serve two terms, but in his op-ed argued the country is “in too much peril” for him to retire.
- Wisconsin is one of the most closely divided states in the country and Johnson’s reelection is expected to be heavily contested by both parties. Thune is expected to easily win reelection.
- CNN surveyed Senate Republicans and found they hope Johnson seeks a third term, including Mitch McConnell who “of course” wants Johnson to run again.
- New York Magazine asks if 2022 will finally be the year Ron Johnson’s “luck runs out” after narrow wins in 2010 and 2016.
- The Guardian reported on Johnson’s history of controversial comments, including suggesting the Capitol rioters were framed and skepticism about the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines.
- The Washington Examiner’s coverage of Thune’s decision focuses on its implications for the Senate Republican Conference and his relationship with the former president.
- Fox News framed Thune’s reelection bid as “positioning himself as the likely successor to GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.”
- Elections analyst Chris Stirewalt and National Journal’s political editor Josh Kraushaar discussed the 2022 midterm elections on The Dispatch Podcast.
Thune and Johnson’s decisions finalize the 2022 Senate landscape. Republicans are defending four open seats in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, and Missouri. Johnson’s decision to seek reelection gives Republicans a battle-tested incumbent in a must-win seat.
Republicans must defend their four open seats and protect incumbents in presidential battlegrounds like Florida, Wisconsin, and Iowa. In addition, they must defeat at least one Democratic incumbent (in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Nevada and/or New Hampshire) to take back control after Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rhetoric cost the party both Georgia Senate seats and the majority just over one year ago.
Thune’s decision to seek another term has ramifications for the future of the Senate Republican Conference. As Republican Whip, Thune is one of three leading possible successors to McConnell. Punchbowl News refers to the three contenders as “The Three Johns:” Thune, his predecessor as Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), and No. 3 Republican leader John Barrasso (R-WY). Thune is signaling his plans to campaign for Leader once McConnell’s historic tenure ends.
© Dominic Moore, 2022