Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)

U.S. Senator (since January 2011)

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Why He Matters

A political neophyte who refers to Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" as his "foundational book," Johnson entered the political world by speaking at an October 2010 tea party event. Though his political views keep him from being identified as a true tea party candidate, he remains a classic conservative on most issues. For Johnson, the 2010 health-care reform bill, or the "greatest assault on our freedom in my lifetime," served as the impetus to enter the 2010 Senate race when he unseated Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.).

Founder of a plastics company manufacturer, Johnson benefitted when the expected GOP standard-bearer dropped out of the contest. He then started blasting Feingold as a big-spending liberal who was out of touch with Wisconsin voters, dumping $4.4 million of his personal fortune into the race along the way.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Founder, PACUR
  • Birthday: April 8, 1955
  • Hometown: Oshkosh, Wis.
  • Alma Mater: University of Minnesota
  • Spouse: Jane
  • Religion: Lutheran
  • Committees: Appropriations ; Budget ; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ; Aging

Path To Power

Johnson was born in 1955 in Mankato, Minn.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Johnson lived at home, working full-time. He worked for high school-ring and yearbook company Jostens and attended a night MBA program before dropping out before his degree was complete.

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The Issues

Johnson is a basic conservative: for gun rights, less federal spending and cutting the size of taxes and the federal government.

Despite Johnson's political connection with the tea-party movement, he wasn't fully embraced by its members due to questions about his interpretations of the Second and Tenth Amendments. Nonetheless, he did enjoy support from many within the movement during his 2010 Senate bid.

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The Network

All three Republicans in Wisconsin's House delegation endorsed Johnson's bid for the Senate: Tom Petri, Jim Sensenbrenner and Paul Ryan.


Additional Resources

  1. Espino, J.E., "Russ Feingold, Ron Johnson in tight battle for Senate" Appleton Post-Crescent, Oct.27, 2010
  2. Ramde, Dinesh, "Johnson, Westlake want oil drilling in Alaska" The Associated Press, June 5, 2010
  3. Johnson web site, accessed Sept. 15, 2010
  4. Catanese, David, "Johnson balances GOP, tea party" Politico, July 6, 2010
  5. MSNBC Live Election Results
  6. Schultz, Steve, "Sunspots are behind climate change, Johnson says" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 16, 2010
  7. Umhoefer, Dave, "Feingold, Johnson spar over oil drilling" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 15, 2010
  8. Burcum, Jim, "Jill Burcum: Wisconsin candidate on the clock" The Star Tribune, Sept. 13, 2010
  9. Nordlinger, Jay, "A Clash of Opposites" National Review, Aug. 16, 2010
  10. Will, George F., "Instead of shrugging, Ron Johnson is running for office" The Washington Post, May 27, 2010
  11. Schultze, Steve, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Sunspots are behind climate change, Johnson says, Aug. 16, 2010
  12. "Wisconsin GOP Congressional Delegation Endorses Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate" Ron Johnson for Senate, July 12, 2010
  13. Walker, Don, "Feingold, Johnson clash on spending, reducing debt" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 22, 2010
  14. Higgins, Sean, "Wis. Senate Candidate Johnson Says D.C. Needs Business Savvy" Investor's Business Daily, Oct. 19, 2010
  15. Stiles, Andrew, "Exclusive: Ron Johnson, the Reluctant Candidate (Part I)" The National Review, Oct. 6, 2010
  16. Johnson, Ron, "Ron Johnson: OK of health care bill an assault on our freedom" Capital Times, July 3, 2010
  17. McCormack, John, "Farewell to Feingold?" The Weekly Standard, July 31, 2010
  18. Walker, Don, "Feingold, Johnson clash on spending, reducing debt" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 22, 2010
  19. "Meet Ron" Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate
  20. Walker, Don, "Feingold, Johnson clash on spending, reducing debt" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 22, 2010
  21. Walker, Don and Herzog, Karen, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Johnson handily wins, will take on Feingold, Sept. 14, 2010
  22. Stein, Jason and Dave Umhoefer, "Ron Johnson solidifies GOP base in fight for Senate seat" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 27, 2010
  23. Barbour, Clay, "Senate candidate Ron Johnson maturing quickly" Wisconsin State Journal, Aug. 1, 2010