He's [Ron Johnson] a person who has morphed into the guy who's gonna say the racist part out loud. We're talking real Archie Bunker here now, on top of the conspiracy theories. — Mandela Barnes, Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
He's [Ron Johnson] a person who has morphed into the guy who's gonna say the racist part out loud. We're talking real Archie Bunker here now, on top of the conspiracy theories. — Mandela Barnes, Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin

I feel that, honestly, he [Ron Johnson] says these things in order to get attention, to bring attention to himself. Because he hasn't delivered for people. He speaks his truth, and unfortunately, he's delusional. — Mandela Barnes, Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
I feel that, honestly, he [Ron Johnson] says these things in order to get attention, to bring attention to himself. Because he hasn't delivered for people. He speaks his truth, and unfortunately, he's delusional. — Mandela Barnes, Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Sen. Ron Johnson's evolution from Tea Party insurgent to conspiracy theory promoter
"The science tells us that vaccines are 95 percent effective. So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?" Johnson told conservative radio host Vicki McKenna in April. "So why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine?"

At a GOP gathering in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, in early June, Johnson dismissed climate change. "I don't know about you guys, but I think climate change is -- as Lord Monckton said -- bullsh*t," Johnson said, mouthing the expletive and referencing British conservative climate change denier Lord Christopher Monckton. "By the way, it is."

And the senator recently suggested -- without any evidence -- that the FBI had more inside knowledge than it let on about Capitol insurrection. "I don't say this publicly," Johnson told constituents in late July. "So you think that the FBI had fully infiltrated the militias in Michigan and they didn't know squat about what's was happening on January 6 and what's was happening with these groups?"

Johnson's outspoken takes have run the gamut from vaccine skepticism to climate change denialism to downplaying the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. His evolution from a conservative businessman to two-term senator apparently willing to deny facts and spread conspiracies has left some in the state wondering: What happened to Ron Johnson?

... A number of former Johnson allies have found themselves aghast at the senator's behavior around the 2020 election.

"I think that he's the same in some ways but a little more disappointing," one former staffer said of Johnson's political evolution. The most disappointing part being his actions surrounding the election, the former staffer said.

Johnson -- then the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee -- held a hearing in December highlighting what he claimed were many "irregularities" during the 2020 election.

"He would say, 'I'm just asking questions,' but framing that as a way to almost keep spreading the big lie about elections," the former Johnson staffer said. "That was the time when we needed people to most step up and say the election was legitimate. He of all people should have been in a position to say he knew how these elections worked and everything went right."

Johnson made headlines again this week when a liberal activist secretly filmed the senator admitting Trump lost the state of Wisconsin.

"The only reason Trump lost Wisconsin is that 51,000 Republican voters didn't vote for him," Johnson said in the video. "There's nothing obviously skewed about the results. There isn't."

But his private admission that Trump lost hasn't stopped him from publicly sticking by his claims of irregularities.

... For Democrats in Wisconsin, Johnson's straight talk is easy campaign ammunition.

Nearly a dozen Democrats have jumped in the race for Johnson's seat, including high-profile names like Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin's Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry.

... Barnes also took aim at Johnson's remarks, telling CNN, "He's a person who has morphed into the guy who's gonna say the racist part out loud. We're talking real Archie Bunker here now, on top of the conspiracy theories."

There's little sign Democrats plan to let up.

"I feel that, honestly, he says these things in order to get attention, to bring attention to himself. Because he hasn't delivered for people," Barnes said. "He speaks his truth, and unfortunately, he's delusional.
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/04/politics/ron-johnson-evolution/index.html