MOUNT PLEASANT — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson was in Mount Pleasant on Saturday for the grand opening of his campaign office at 6100 Washington Avenue.
He and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos rallied supporters and encouraged them to start campaigning.
“We’re looking for a strong grassroots effort to win us this election,” Johnson told a crowd of supporters.
“Luckily, the primary is behind us,” added Vos, who narrowly survived a challenge in the primary that concluded Tuesday by fewer than 300 votes. The arguing on our own side is yesterday’s news. Now, we’re going to focus on what we do best, which is taking the conservative message — not just in Racine County — but all across Wisconsin.”
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Johnson took questions from the audience and the first out of the gate was on election integrity. The questioner said he was “terrified that people are going to stuff ballot boxes, drop boxes and steal ballots.”
Drop boxes are no longer in use for voting anywhere in Wisconsin.
“I share your concern,” Johnson said, while adding the GOP has put together a team to watch “registrations to make sure they’re valid, the best we can.”
He added, “God bless the guy who had Robin’s name and birthday and requested a ballot to a different address.” Here, Johnson is referencing Harry Wait, the man from the Town of Dover who admitted to illegally requesting absentee ballots online using the names of Vos and Racine Mayor Cory Mason and had them sent to his home address to prove it was possible. Wait received Mason’s ballot in the mail, but never received a ballot addressed to Vos.
The Racine County Sheriff’s Office said that this illustrates a “vulnerability” in Wisconsin’s election system — as it is possible to request someone else’s ballot online with only knowledge of their name and birthdate. Wisconsin Elections Commission officials have responded by saying there is not a vulnerability, and that those who aim to cheat will continue trying to find a way.
Wait attested that he never voted on behalf of anyone else, but solely requested their ballots.
The state Department of Justice has said it is investigating the situation that came into the public eye two weeks ago, although no updates have been provided in the past week. Wait said he expects to be charged with a felony.
Johnson said he felt the Wisconsin Elections Commission did not respond to the situation correctly; in response to Wait’s actions, WEC sent out a mailer to all those who requested ballots be sent to an address that is different from their registered address, a practice that is not uncommon since thousands of voters do not live at their home address year-round.
Johnson added a claim that “Democrats want a system that makes it easy to cheat ... Nobody can say for sure how many votes are fraudulent.” He said the best way to respond to the concern about election integrity was to “overwhelm them with our votes.”
The individual pushed back and said, “You know they’re stuffing ballot boxes, and we don’t have the security to make sure they can’t do that.” There is no evidence of the stuffing of ballot boxes in recent U.S. electoral history.
In response, Johnson went on to lament the lack of confidence the voters can have in the system and said no matter the political party, people should have confidence in the system.
WEC commissioners have argued the best deterrent to illegal voting has been to arrest and criminally charge those who abuse the election system.
Johnson told those gathered that what he hears most often from people as he has talked to voters is fear “that things are just coming apart.”
“What they talk to me about, with tears in their eyes, sometime with tears streaming down their cheeks, there’s just this overwhelming foreboding that we’re losing this country,” Johnson said. “They don’t like the division. They don’t like the anger.”
Johnson reminded his supporters that President Joe Biden said eight times in his inaugural address that his goal was to unite and heal the nation, but claimed Biden and Democrats were not being successful in that endeavor.
“That’s what our side wants,” he said of unity. “The other side is widening the gap.”
Johnson said the heart of his campaign would be the fight for freedom.
Education and gender
The senator quoted Canadian conservative media personality Jordan Peterson’s argument that conservatives are not very good at defending their values and positions.
Johnson said that was because they did not think a time would come when they would have to defend the “validity of the nuclear family” — that is a family with a mom and dad.
He continued to say conservatives did not think the day would come when they would have to push back against “indoctrinating” children with critical race theory in school or the policy of administering “gender-blocking” drugs to children without parent notification.
In the U.S., no state allows those under the age of 18 to receive what are known as “puberty-blocking drugs,” typically used by transgender individuals who are transitioning, without parental consent. Some states ban the use of those drugs for those under the age of 18 altogether.
Johnson cited these as the “radical leftist crap that’s being shoved down our throat,” along with males competing against females in sports and allegedly being forced to shower together.
Adam Rogan of The Journal Times contributed to this report.
Readers react to Ron Johnson's remarks about riot
Johnson was active enabler for Trump -- Donna Silver
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, is now saying “no insurrection” occurred at the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6.
What part of the definition of insurrection -- a violent uprising against the government -- does he fail to grasp? Must there be more than five dead and over a hundred wounded for it to be violent? Does the legislative branch not qualify as government?
To give Johnson the benefit of the doubt, a valid psychological reason could cause him to be delusional. Since he and a handful of senators (most notably Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas) have been active enablers of the Trump-led insurrection, it is understandable he would want to diminish the magnitude of the event.
Since words matter, Johnson is technically not an insurrectionist. The more accurate descriptor would be “seditionist,” a person whose speech incites rebellion against the state.
By sowing doubt about the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election -- a point conceded even by Trump’s ever-loyal attorney general, Bill Barr -- Johnson enabled a dangerous lie and may accurately be called a seditionist.
Donna Silver, Madison
Johnson doesn't represent state -- Joanie Ouellette
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, should not run for office again. He shouldn't waste voters' time as a candidate. Instead, he should let other people run for U.S. Senate to better represent Wisconsin.
His recent comments that the uprising at the U.S. Capitol was not an armed insurrection made national news. His comments will negatively cost our state in tourist dollars, potential business investment and applications to our wonderful universities. Johnson's statements are a poor reflection of what Wisconsin is really all about. We are not ignorant people. Nor can we be bamboozled into believing that the insurrection did not happen. We saw and heard it with our own eyes and ears.
If this is what Johnson truly believes -- that the events of the Capitol were not an armed insurrection -- then he should not represent me or many others in Wisconsin who see it in a different and more alarming way.
Johnson should stop making fools of us here in Wisconsin. Please stop talking and please do not embarrass us any more by running for an office that you misrepresent.
Joanie Ouellette, Madison
Trade for Johnson wasn't an upgrade -- Ron Sklansky
It remains difficult to deal with the notion that Wisconsin swapped a person of political integrity, former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Middleton, for a conspiracy theorist and Trump enabler in U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh.
As a longtime Cubs fan, I’ve been haunted by the deal that sent future Hall of Famer Lou Brock to St. Louis for the soon-to-be burned out Ernie Broglio. Even so, it seems the Cubs made a better trade in 1964 than Wisconsin did in 2010 and 2016 when it sent Johnson to Washington, D.C.
Ron Sklansky, Madison
MY VIEW | PHIL HANDS
Johnson shamed Wisconsin again -- Rick Burgsteiner
The recent comments from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, about the Capitol riots being an exaggerated threat are astonishingly sad.
Those comments reinforce how little respect he seems to have for those who put their lives on the line to defend the Capitol. He has brought shame on Wisconsin.
But of course it's not the first time, and it won't be the last.
Rick Burgsteiner, River Falls
Insurrectionists were indeed armed -- Susan Fiore
I'm baffled by Sen. Ron Johnson's comment that the attack on the U.S. Capitol and our elected officials and their staffs "didn't seem like an armed insurrection to me."
Here's a list of some of the weapons people were carrying, according to The Hill:
- Guns, including at least one automatic rifle.
- Molotov cocktails.
- A crossbow.
- Smoke bombs.
- Stun guns.
- Pipe bombs.
- Hundreds of rounds of ammunition on just one man.
Or perhaps Sen. Johnson, R-Oshkosh, didn't think it was an insurrection. The dictionary defines insurrection as "A violent uprising against an authority or government."
People died. People were injured. People were prevented from doing their jobs. Property was destroyed, damaged and covered with human feces.
I am Johnson's constituent. A constituent is: "One who authorizes another to act as agent," according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Consequently, as my senator, Sen. Johnson works for me. I would like him to do so with honesty, integrity and knowledge of what he speaks.
Susan Fiore, Verona
WATCH NOW: Phil Hands draws Ron Johnson
Johnson must stop enabling Trump -- Gerry Bastien
I have a question for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh.
Donald Trump says he believes he won the election and it was stolen from him by Democrats. Absolutely no evidence of widespread voter fraud or voting machine tampering suggests this, and all 50 states confirmed and certified the vote.
So either Trump is suffering from some delusion and really needs to believe he won, or he knows he didn't win but is lying to keep his base intact so he can continue to be a force in the GOP. If it's the first case, he is in need of medical help. If it's the second, he is perpetrating a hoax on the American people "the likes of which no one has seen before," to quote a former politician.
So, Sen. Johnson, which one do you believe to be the case? And, either way, why are you still enabling him?
Gerry Bastien, Waunakee
Radical Trumpism is here to stay -- Michael Prestigiacomo
I was sickened by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and the other 42 cowardly GOP senators who voted “not guilty” during Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
They chose to ignore Trump’s responsibility for inciting the mob, leading to the attack and insurrection against our nation’s capitol. Johnson and his colleagues also provided credence to millions of Americans who still believe Trump’s utterly false narrative that the election was “stolen.”
It was not.
All 50 states legally certified their election results, with Joe Biden clearly winning the electoral vote and becoming our new president.
The ex-president’s “not guilty” verdict also destroyed the last vestiges of the GOP, while validating the Party of Trump to eliminate moderate Republicans within their ranks, and to double-down on voter suppression while turning a blind eye toward right-wing political violence in securing future elections.
Hardcore Trumpism throughout the country is here to stay, and the rest of the free world has taken note.
Michael Prestigiacomo, Madison
WATCH NOW: Phil Hands draws his latest political cartoon
Ron Johnson should resign from the US Senate -- William Corse
As a former supporter of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who campaigned for him in northwestern Wisconsin back in 2010, when he unseated Russ Feingold, I add my name to the many people who have demanded Johnson resign from the Senate immediately.
After four years of being a lapdog for Donald Trump, he has proven he is not capable of honoring his oath, much less representing the people of Wisconsin properly.
Johnson has spent the last year digging up dirt on Hunter Biden, which is not why we sent him to the Senate in the first place. Farmers are struggling to stay afloat, but he doesn't care. He should do us all a favor and resign now.
After John is gone, Gov. Tony Evers can name a Democrat for the remaining two years of Johnson's current term and help President Joe Biden pull us out of this horrible pandemic before another 200,000 U.S. citizens die needlessly.
William Corse, Eau Claire
Ron Johnson spread lies, kowtowed to Trump -- Brent Odell
For four years, Republicans saw no need to work with Democrats in seeking common ground in addressing the pressing issues facing our country. Now that Republicans aren't in control of the Senate, they're calling for folks to link arms, let bygones be bygones and sing "Kumbaya."
This is coming from the likes of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who spread lies about the election. It's sickening that he and others allowed and continue to allow themselves to be bullied, putting their own self-serving needs above the security of the country and the needs of the American people.
Johnson stated half the population wouldn't accept that Joe Biden won the election. He said this despite multiple recounts and over 60 lawsuits being found baseless and without merit. Do you wonder why? Johnson is an accomplice and shares responsibility by spreading lies and pushing these conspiracy theories.
Johnson enabling Trump the past four years and allowing him to have a stranglehold on the Republican Party was sad and scary. It speaks volumes about Johnson's character that he continues to kowtow to Trump, who has no ethics or morals, manipulates government agencies and acts in ways that only benefit himself.
Brent Odell, McFarland