FILE – Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on March 3, 2021. Johnson, one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters, has decided to seek reelection to a third term, two Republicans with knowledge of the plan told The Associated Press on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. (Greg Nash/The Hill via AP, Pool, File) 

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters, says he will seek reelection to a third term.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest backers, announced Sunday that he will seek reelection in the battleground state, breaking his promise not to seek a third term.

Johnson announced his decision via email two days after a pair of Republicans with knowledge of his decision told The Associated Press that he was close to launching a bid. Johnson over the past year has been a leading voice in downplaying the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to remaining a vocal Trump supporter.

The race is sure to be one of the most hotly contested in the country next year in purple Wisconsin. President Joe Biden won the state by fewer than 21,000 votes in 2020 after a similarly narrow win by Trump in 2016. Johnson won by nearly 5 points in 2010, his first race for office, and then by just over 3 points in 2016. Both times he defeated Democrat Russ Feingold.

Johnson’s announcement that he will run again came a day after Republican Sen. John Thune, of South Dakota, said he would seek a fourth term. No other Senate retirements are likely beyond the five Republicans and one Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who have already announced plans to step down.

Johnson, 66, had long said his preference was to serve just two terms and pledged in 2016 not to run a third time.

But Johnson rescinded the pledge in the lead-up to announcing his reelection bid, saying circumstances have changed after Democrats won the White House and control of Congress.

“Much as I’d like to ease into a quiet retirement, I don’t feel I should,” Johnson wrote in an editorial announcing his reelection bid. He said the response to the coronavirus pandemic also played a part in his decision to run again.

Johnson, who contracted COVID-19 in October 2020 and is not vaccinated, has cast doubt over the efficacy of vaccines and pushed for unproven treatments. Just last week, Johnson on conservative talk radio said, “Why do we think that we can create something better than God in terms of combating disease? Why do we assume that the body’s natural immune system isn’t the marvel that it really is?”

Johnson has espoused conspiracy theories related to last year’s Capitol raid that attempted to shift blame for what happened away from Trump supporters.

Johnson has since downplayed the violence, saying it “didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me.”

Just before the U.S. Capitol was stormed a year ago, Johnson objected to counting the Electoral College votes from Arizona. Last year, he told Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature that they should take over control of federal elections. Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the AP on Friday that there is “zero chance” of the Legislature taking over the awarding of the state’s 10 presidential elector votes in 2024.

Johnson said he did not make the decision to run again lightly.

“Having already experienced a growing level of vitriol and false attacks, I certainly don’t expect better treatment in the future,” he said in his announcement.

Johnson said he never voted with reelection in mind.

“An extension of that promise is that I don’t conduct myself worrying about re-election,” he wrote. “When re-election is not your primary motivation, those are easy promises to keep — and I have faithfully done so.”

Johnson’s opponent won’t be known this time until after an Aug. 9 primary. Several high-profile and well-funded Democrats are running, including Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is seeking to become the state’s first Black senator; Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry; state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

“The only people celebrating Ron Johnson’s announcement are his donors and the corporate special interest groups he’s bailed out time and time again,” Barnes said in a statement. “Let’s get to work and retire this failed senator.”

Barnes, Godlewski, Nelson and other Democrats faulted Johnson for breaking his promise to serve only two terms.

Johnson’s decision also has ripple effects on Wisconsin’s governor’s race. Kevin Nicholson, a former Marine who ran for U.S. Senate and lost in the GOP primary in 2018, has said he would run for governor if Johnson sought reelection.

But Nicholson had been focused on running for Senate. His website urges supporters to “help Kevin take back Washington.”

Earlier this week, former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy bowed out of running for Senate or governor.

History is on Johnson’s side in the midterm election. The party that does not hold the White House generally gains seats in midterm congressional elections. Former President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party, for example, lost 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate in 2010.

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India boosts military presence as
border talks with China remain stalled


On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0003

A close-up of a heliport under construction in Rutog County.

0001

On volatile border between India and China, a high-altitude military buildup is underway

0004

Construction crews are now scattered around Ladakh as Indian authorities speed up their infrastructure race with China.

0005

An overview of a heliport under construction near Aksai Chin Lake, in a region administered by China but contested by India, on May 28.

0002

An overview of a heliport under construction in Rutog County in the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, on Nov. 28.

0003 0001 0004 0005 0002

BEIJING’S ISLAND-BUILDING IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

Runway

Runway

China is expanding the construction of its facilities on Fiery Cross Reef. Provided by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), this June 28, 2015 photo reveals Beijing has nearly completed a 3,000 meter (9,800-foot) airstrip, long enough to accommodate most Chinese military aircraft. Two h...

Expansion

Expansion

Reclamation on Fiery Cross Reef, which lies on the west side of the Spratly Islands, began in August of 2014 and its principal landmass was finished by November. Dredgers have created a land mass that spans the entire existing reef and is approximately 3,000 meters long and 200-300 meters wide.

Facilities

Facilities

This picture taken last November shows construction work being carried out on Fiery Cross Reef. The reef reportedly already houses a helicopter landing pad, a 300-meter-long wharf, a harbor large enough to dock military tankers, barracks and artillery emplacements.

South Johnson Reef

South Johnson Reef

This reef was one of the first facilities to finish principal land reclamation. This recent picture shows that a radar tower is nearing completion at the north end of the land mass. According to AMTI, a new large multi-level military facility has been built in the center of the island. Up to six sur...

A naval base?

A naval base?

Beginning in early 2015, Mischief Reef - also located in the Spratlys - has undergone extensive reclamation activity. Experts say that the recent widening of the southern entrance to the reef, coupled with sightings of Chinese navy vessels, may suggest a future role for the reclaimed reef as a naval...

From reef to island

From reef to island

Significant construction on Gaven Reef began in 2014, with a total of 114,000 square meters of land already created. Satellite pictures show just how fast construction has progressed on the reef. A new artificial island was created between March (left) and August (right) 2014.

Troop garrison

Troop garrison

According to AMTI, China has had a troop garrison on Gaven Reef since 2003, which has included a large supply platform where ships can dock. Experts say a new main square building in the reef appears to be an anti-aircraft tower.

A standardized process

A standardized process

As seen in this image, the basic process of expanding these features involves dredging sand from the seafloor and dumping it onto the reefs. The structure is raised above the high water line, hiding the status of the bank or reef beneath. The sand is then smoothed out and workers surround the island...

'Historic rights'

'Historic rights'

China claims most of the potentially energy-rich waterway, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. The US Pacific Fleet commander recently said China was "creating a great wall of sand" in the South China Sea, causing serious concerns about its territorial intentions. Beijin...

Territorial disputes

Territorial disputes

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims, which have led to territorial disputes in the area. Last summer, China's deployment of a massive oil rig in waters also claimed by Hanoi escalated tensions in the region, sparking a standoff at sea and violent anti-C...

US concerns

US concerns

Washington is concerned China's efforts carry a military dimension that could undermine the US' naval and economic power in the Pacific, and has weighed sending warships and surveillance aircraft within 12 nautical miles of the new artificial islands. Washington has repeatedly called on Beijing and ...

Ecological impact

Ecological impact

The Philippines filed a formal plea at the UN last year, challenging Beijing's territorial claims. Manila said China's reclamation activities are causing "irreversible and widespread damage to the biodiversity and ecological balance of the South China Sea." It also claimed that the destruction of co...

Runway Expansion Facilities South Johnson Reef A naval base? From reef to island Troop garrison A standardized process 'Historic rights' Territorial disputes US concerns Ecological impact

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