RoJo Misfires Again

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson shouldn’t be desperate for issues on which to attack his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. But he sure looks desperate now.

Johnson is going after Barnes for using a lot of security in his first three years in office. And, in fact, Barnes has rung up over $600,000 in security costs, about 10 times more than his predecessor. But it’s notable that this attack is a deviation from Johnson’s theme to this point, which has been to use Barnes’ own words against him to link him to his party’s unpopular hard-left.

Maybe it’s not working because it seems to me that the security costs thing is pretty weak tea.

For one thing, Barnes’ campaign has pointed out that it’s the state’s security team that decides when to protect the Lieutenant Governor. Though I suppose Barnes can request protection whenever he feels the need, security officials could deny the request if they feel it’s not justified.

But Johnson’s attack only goes to underscore the ugly realities that RoJo himself has helped foster. Mandela Barnes is a high-profile Black man in a society awash in guns and nutty conspiracy theories, many of which Johnson has pushed himself. When armed insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, Johnson said he didn’t see any guns and he never felt threatened. I guess it was just a school tour group that got outside the ropes. Nothing to see here.

And Johnson has continued to echo Trump’s lies about voter fraud and stolen elections, which has led to widespread threats against honest election officials just trying to do their jobs. Moreover, this is an environment in which two men, with ties to Wisconsin, were just convicted of plotting to kidnap and murder Michigan’s governor, mostly because of her actions to protect her citizens against COVID. And, here again, Johnson has pushed crazy theories about quack treatments and contributed to the hostility toward public health officials.

As for all those guns, Johnson even voted against mild, bipartisan gun safety measures that were supported by 15 of his conservative GOP colleagues.

When their constituents tell him something unhinged, it’s the job of a United States Senator — or any responsible leader — to set them straight, not feed into their paranoia. Remember John McCain in 2008 disagreeing with a supporter who wanted to claim that Barack Obama was an “Arab”? McCain took the mic away from the woman and said, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

But John McCain is gone and so is the old GOP. RoJo is a full member in good standing of the new Party of Trump, where no conspiracy theory is too crazy and no lie is too brazen.

Make no mistake about it. Ron Johnson has played no small part in creating the dangerous environment in which Mandela Barnes needs near round the clock protection. If he wants to complain about the costs he might write a letter to himself.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

3 thoughts on “RoJo Misfires Again

  1. Much like McCain, our own beloved Brett Hulsey cooled things down after an angry mob cornered Glenn Grothman outside the Capitol building in 2011:

    “This guy and I disagree on everything, but we’re friends,” he said.

    Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. The world needs more Brett Hulseys.

    As you said, Barnes is just taking the security given him, as I’m sure Wisconsin legislators are after the antifa mob beat the hell out of one of them during the GF riots. They did get more security right? Right?

    They probably even forced Barnes to wear a bulletproof vest while making all those commercials in Hicksville. You just know all those yokels would love to take a shot at the prominent black man and were not asking each other “Who is that guy?”, no not at all.

    Ugh. How many more weeks of the spin doctoring?


  2. Here’s another sign that Ronald Johnson is getting desperate: Last night, while listening to the Brewers’ loss to a bad Pittsburgh team, I heard an attack ad against Mandela Barnes, narrated by our current senator.
    One thing that I’ve always liked about baseball on the radio is that it’s a respite from reality, which is one of its many charms. This is anecdotal but I have rarely heard political ads during baseball games. Politicians typically leave the advertising to Usinger’s, Pomp’s Tires, CedarCrest, AmFam and Miller.
    When they’re behind, though, and flush with money, I guess they just flood the zone. I can’t wait for this to be over.


    1. Yep. Johnson’s been running ads on Brewer games for at least a month now. I don’t like it either, but he’s obviously targeted the baseball-loving demographic. I suppose sports fans in general might shade conservative, but I’m not so sure about baseball.


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