Sen. Johnson tells 'kitchen cabinet' he will run for reelection in 2016

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has dispelled speculation that he would only serve one term by announcing to GOP allies that he will run for reelection in 2016, according to sources.

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Johnson met with a small group of Republican strategists at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Thursday to discuss his future.

“He had a meeting with some of the heavy hitters from the downtown GOP community at the NRSC. Sen. Johnson told them he would run again,” said a GOP source familiar with the meeting.

A second Republican source confirmed the account of the meeting.

The group included what one Republican lobbyist called a “kitchen cabinet” of Republican strategists from a variety of D.C. firms and trade associations.


“We can confirm that Sen. Johnson has initiated fundraising for a re-election campaign," said Mary Vought, senior communications adviser to Johnson.

Some Republicans thought Johnson, who won an upset victory against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) as part of the 2010 Tea Party wave, would serve only one term, in the mold of a citizen legislator.

Unlike most of his Senate colleagues, Johnson came to the upper chamber without any prior experience holding elected office. Before running for office, he spent 31 years building a plastics manufacturing business.

His direct approach to policy problems sometimes seems to clash with the culture of the Senate, where the culture of doing business is often circuitous.

For this reason, some Republican lobbyists thought he might retire after one term.

“There was a lot of talk that he wasn’t going to run again, that he would walk off into the sunset,” said one GOP source.

Johnson has made fiscal issues his signature priority and he could play a role in pushing a grand bargain on the deficit through Congress.

President Obama invited Johnson and 11 other Republican senators to the Jefferson Hotel Wednesday evening to discuss a budget deal.

“He says he’s ready to get serious about this. I hope so. I’m more than willing to go talk to him and go listen to him,” Johnson said in an interview last week. “I actually do know something about the private sector, the types of investment decisions businesses make, the types of risks they make, what prompts them to do that, what dispirits them. Hopefully he’ll listen as well so we can actually start working toward resolutions.”

The biography posted on his Senate website states: “Ron came to Washington because the federal government is bankrupting America. He thinks it is important for citizen legislators to ally with those who are seriously facing that reality.”

Johnson will appear on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning where he is likely to discuss the possibility of reaching a broad deal on the deficit and his meeting with the president.