Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

Everyone’s Dumping on Ron Johnson

A recall effort, attacks by the Lincoln Project, angry editorial and much more.

By - Jan 6th, 2021 02:06 pm
Ron Johnson. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (

Ron Johnson. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / (CC BY-SA)

It’s been a great week for Ron Johnson haters. His attacks on the legal election of Joe Biden have been attacked by Morning Joe, the Lincoln Project and a rare Journal Sentinel editorial. And a petition to recall Wisconsin’s Republican U.S. Senator is making the rounds.

On Sunday Johnson had a shouting match with“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that left Johnson looking less than senatorial.

That same day, Steve Schmidt of the Lincoln Project, the group of conservative Republican never-Trumpers who ran powerful ads attacking Donald Trump during the presidential race, promised on Twitter they would go after Johnson:  “@RonJohnsonWI I wanted to let you know what we are talking about at @ProjectLincoln tonight. The campaign against you will be the one you earned with your betrayal and sedition. When we are done you will be an American villain who exceeds even the wretched McCarthy in ignominy.”

“I promise you two years of abject political misery,” another tweet by Schmidt promised. “Let’s put Democracy on the ballot. Let’s put your lack of character under review. I think it could be great.”

On Monday Johnson got slammed by former Republican congressman and anti-Trumper Joe Scarborough on his popular MSNBC Morning Joe political show, with host offering this take: “Ron Johnson sometimes doesn’t know the difference between a micro-wave and a blender and his lawn mower. So I don’t think we even need to get into Ron Johnson. He gets confused easily.

None of the guests offered any disagreement.

That same day the Poynter Institute’s Politifact gave Johnson a “Full Flop” rating for completely contradicting himself. Back in mid-December Johnson said “he regarded the election as legitimate and accepted Biden as president-elect,” the analysis noted, and said he didn’t intend to contest the results. Now he’s joined a small group of Republican senators to contest the results.

On Tuesday the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an extraordinary editorial blasting the state’s senior senator. Extraordinary because the newspaper quit doing editorials years ago, because it was unusually long, and because the typically careful paper went after Johnson with guns blazing, suggested by the headline “Ron Johnson’s dangerous shilling for Donald Trump makes him unfit to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate.” The editorial compared Johnson unfavorably to Republicans like Paul Ryan and Mike Gallagher, who have stood up for the democratic process and condemned efforts to overturn the presidential election, and offered this salvo:

“Johnson’s disgraceful display should not go unpunished… we urge voters to remember what Johnson has done. Hold him accountable. Demand that qualified challengers, Republican and Democrat alike, run against him if he has the audacity to break another promise and try for a third term in 2022.”

And in a column published today, Right Wisconsin editor James Wigderson compared Johnson to his scurrilous predecessor Joe McCarthy, whose name became a label (McCarthyism) for ruining lives using shameless attacks without evidence. Wigderson accuses Johnson of “corrupting demagogy,” of “attempting to justify disenfranchising millions of voters, including those in his own state, using wild, unsubstantiated charges of vote fraud. McCarthy would have been proud of his successor. ”

Meanwhile, a petition to “Recall Senator Ron Johnson” by saw a surge in signatures (more than 16,000 as of this morning) agreeing with this pointed assessment of Johnson: “He does not represent the citizens of Wisconsin, and continues to perpetuate the idea that the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent. This devalues his constituents votes and their voices to be heard. His motives are dangerous to our Democracy as a whole, and disgraceful to the citizens of Wisconsin.”

Stirring stuff. But will any of it matter?

Let’s start with the petition, as that’s the most easy to dismiss, because a federal official cannot be recalled from office. As the Congressional Research Service notes, “the United States Constitution does not provide for nor authorize the recall of United States officers such as Senators, Representatives, or the President or Vice President, and thus no Member of Congress has ever been recalled in the history of the United States…. the right to remove a Member of Congress before the expiration of his or her constitutionally established term of office is one which resides exclusively in each house of Congress as expressly delegated in the expulsion clause of the United States Constitution.”

The showdown with Todd and Morning Joe’s dismissal of Johnson are good TV, but likely to be forgotten by next week.

As for the Lincoln Project, it remains to be seen if it indeed decides to target Johnson. Its ads have certainly been punchy and fun, but the group had more success targeting Trump than Republican senators. And once Trump is gone the group may have trouble sustaining momentum, as Politico has suggested. That said, if the group does a sustained attack on Johnson it could be damaging.

Once upon a time, when the Journal Sentinel had statewide clout, the JS editorial could have been devastating. But nowadays the paper doesn’t have much clout in the Milwaukee metro area, much less state wide. Johnson, moreover, tends to glory in the media attacks on him, styling himself as the courageous warrior unfazed by attacks from the allegedly liberal media.

Still, there is a steady, drip-drip quality to all the attacks that may leave Johnson permanently stained. His undermining of democracy might upset some of the same suburban Republican voters who turned against Trump. Wigderson’s column for a publication aimed at conservatives could reinforce such feelings.

And beyond Johnson’s demagoguery on the presidential election is another issue that also goes to his integrity. He was reelected in 2016 after promising voters he would retire after serving a second term. Now, as the JS editorial noted, “he has the audacity” to consider breaking that promise and run for another term. The media across the state are aware of that promise and might want to remind voters of it.

Update: Just after this column was published, I watched the images of protestors taking over the U.S. Capitol, of police drawing guns within the building after Congress was evacuated in what a Fox New commentator called the most dangerous attack on our nation’s Capitol since the War of 1812. This outrage would not have happened without President Trump’s repeated condemnation of a legal election. And Ron Johnson is among the Republican politicians who have supported Trump’s treacherous campaign. These images of America’s citadel of democracy being trashed may ultimately be the real opponent for Johnson and the most indelible issue he faces, should he decide to run for reelection.

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

12 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: Everyone’s Dumping on Ron Johnson”

  1. MilwMike1 says:

    He may be the textbook definition of #TRAITOR.

  2. MilwMike1 says:

    Johnsonism should become a synonym for treasonish behavior.

  3. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Putin’s puppet.

  4. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Ron Johnson may not be recalled, but could his ignorance and arrogance be exposed to an extent that he could decide to resign?

  5. Carl Schwartz says:

    You can add to your update that Ron did a double flip and ended up voting AGAINST rejecting the results in both AZ and PA

  6. gerrybroderick says:

    I would be happy to buy a brick in the Senator’s name to be placed in the Trump Memorial Wall; a tribute I propose be constructed somewhere between Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico and Defiance, Ohio. Perhaps Embarrass, Minnesota, or, Peculiar, Missouri would be appropriate.

  7. Joseph Wiesner says:

    Ron apparently found Jesus only when his own well-being was threatened by the monster he helped create. He deserves contempt by the truckload.

  8. JMcD says:

    RoJo’s behavior has fueled the conspiracy about election fraud. Can he be sued for defamation? If it is possible, there are several election officials and several voting machine/software companies he has defamed. He is a bad apple and not too bright. We can easily do better. By the way, he thinks one of his options is to run for governor. Can you imagine???

  9. JMcD says:

    One more log to throw on the fire. Consider that RoJo is the head of Homeland security. The likelihood of violence was well known on multiple chat sites. Yet he has spent so much time and money at the behest of the grifter in chief chasing Rudy’s Hunter Biden folly. He should look in the mirror and see his failure to provide the needed heightened alert to police so this insurrection attempt didn’t happen, lives weren’t lost. The guy it’s dumb as a rock.

  10. Thomas Martinsen says:

    I agree with gerrybroderick that bricks with RJ’s name on them could be placed in infamous places such as Defiance, Ohio and Embarrass, NM.- as testimony to the damages done by his so called work as a legislator.

    If Ron Johnson does not have the sense to resign, he should be censured. .

  11. MilwMike1 says:

    Censure seems like a perfect response if he fails to resign.

  12. tornado75 says:

    i find it interesting that the word ‘dumping’ is used. for me, that word carries with it a meaning, isn’t that too bad, he’s being dumped on’ as if the person doesn’t deserve it. or does bruce mean, now everyone is dumping on ron johnson and he should have been dumped on a long time ago and these people are catching up. in my opinion, ron johnson should be dumped.

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