Where Things Stand: RonJohn Is Flailing Around

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WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 14: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) questions U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, September 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. Blink... WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 14: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) questions U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, September 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. Blinken was questioned about the Biden administration's handling of the U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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A recent Marquette University Law School found that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) may not be as safely re-electable as he was ahead of his last reelection in 2016.

The poll was released last week, showing RonJohn is trailing a bit behind his Democratic rival — Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes has a 7-percentage point lead over Johnson with 51 percent of the vote compared to his 44 percent.

That’s just one poll and it’s hard to know what to make of it in a state like Wisconsin. But RonJohn seems to be reacting to it all a bit weirdly, taking a tossing-spaghetti-at-the-wall sort of approach to making headlines in recent days. But it’s not entirely clear what demographic of constituent he is aiming to court with these latest remarks.

He gave an interview on Friday that aired Sunday where he essentially tried to create some distance between himself and Donald Trump, at least when it comes to the former president’s fake electors scheme. As if faking a phone call to ignore reporters’ questions wasn’t avoid-y enough.

“I had nothing to do with the alternate slate. I had no idea that anybody was going to ask me to deliver those,” Johnson told a local ABC News affiliate Friday. “My involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple of seconds.”

There’s a specific subgroup of voters who might find some comfort in Johnson creating distance between himself and a crucial component of Trump’s election-stealing scheme, but it certainly isn’t Donald Trump’s most loyal base of voters in Wisconsin.

But Johnson may be trying to court far-right conservative voters in other ways. In a separate interview with the local Washington County Daily News, Johnson not only made it overwhelmingly clear that he is in complete agreement with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, but he also expressed support for Congress passing a national ban or national restrictions on the procedure.

“Maybe Congress can take a look at what the states have done and say ‘we probably ought to place this limit here,’ based on new information or whatever,” he told the local news outlet. It’s a move that certainly won’t do anything to get moderate Republican voters who aren’t opposed to abortion in his camp. And it may even help boost Barnes — the same Marquette poll that found Johnson trailing Barnes also found that 66 percent of Wisconsin residents support abortion being legal in all or most cases. Only 30 percent of those surveyed indicated it should be outlawed entirely.

Johnson’s remarks on marriage equality over the weekend were also a bit odd. During the interview with the local ABC affiliate, Johnson appeared to backtrack a bit on his previous support for a possible bill that could codify same-sex marriage rights into law. In weeks past, as some of his Republican and Democratic colleagues in the Senate weigh bringing forth a same-sex marriage bill that passed in the House, Johnson emerged as a potential Republican voice in support of the measure. And by voice of support I mean he simply has said he has “no reason to oppose it.”

But during the interview with WISN, Johnson pulled out a familiar GOP talking point that people like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have deployed in the weeks since Roe’s overturning to avoid engaging seriously on the issue — he argued it’s not even an issue at all.

“The decision on gay marriage will never be overturned,” he told WISN. “I do not see the Supreme Court overturning that because that would impact millions of people that have acted on that … This is just Democrats opening up a wound that had really healed.”

The problem is, as we know, Justice Clarence Thomas very explicitly nodded at the idea that same-sex marriage rights could be in jeopardy when the high court ruled in June to overturn Roe.

TL;DR it’s unclear wtf Johnson is trying to do here, besides perhaps trying to make some headlines back home.

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