Meet Ron Johnson: Wealthy Businessman, Global Warming Skeptic – And Wisconsin’s Next Senator?

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October 11, 2010 4:43 a.m.
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Who is Ron Johnson? He is a businessman who won the Republican nomination to run against three-term Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, and now leads in the polls thanks to the strongly anti-Dem environment — and boy, has he said the darnedest things.

Johnson, a plastics manufacturer, came out of nowhere to win the state Republican Party convention endorsement back in May, after the party had previously failed to recruit its top potential candidate, former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Johnson won the state convention endorsement less than a week after he’d entered the race to begin with.

So what did he bring to the table? Money — lots of it, and as of the most recent filings (covering the race through August 25) he has put int $4.4 million of his own cash.Johnson has been running on an outsider message. Examples include this ad in which his family awkwardly reads their lines, in a parody of the typical political ads:

And there’s this one, where he pitches his credentials of not being a lawyer:

So if Johnson defeats Feingold, let’s look at some of the issue pronouncements of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI):

• He has opposed government intervention in business — and built his companies partly with the help of government-facilitated loans.

• Just several months before his entry into politics, Johnson testified before a state legislative committee against a bill, intended to crack down on the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals, which would have made it easier for past sex abuse victims to sue organizations that were responsible for their care. (Johnson is not Catholic, but a Lutheran, though he sat on the financial council of the Catholic Church’s Green Bay diocese.)

• He has denied that man contributes to global warming, blaming it on sunspots. (In fact, overall solar activity has gone down slightly over the past decade, while global temperatures have gone up.)

• He has said that carbon emissions are good for trees.

• In further service of denying anthropogenic global warming, he claimed that Greenland used to be green. (Not exactly.)

• In July, he said he would sell his BP stock — when the market was better, so he could use the money to finance his campaign. Being new to politics, he clearly didn’t understand the whole concept of selling stock in a company that has run into political controversy.

• And just on Friday, the AP published an investigation of Johnson’s business records, showing that the candidate, who has campaigned against government subsidies for businesses, receives government subsidies for nine prison inmates he employs.

And after all of this? The TPM Poll Average gives Johnson a lead of 52.0%-43.8%.

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