By Mike Lillis - 11/01/10 07:19 PM EDT
In most races around the country, the issue of healthcare reform has taken a backseat to more pressing concerns about jobs and the economy.
Not in Wisconsin, where Ron Johnson, the Republican challenging Sen. Russ Feingold (D), has made health reform repeal a topic central to his campaign-trail message.
"It's a pretty simple race," Johnson told Fox commentator Sean Hannity on Sunday. "We absolutely have to get this spending and debt under control in this country, and part of that is really going to be to repeal the healthcare bill.
"Not only is that going to destroy the finest healthcare system in the world, it would be a huge budget-buster. It will add trillions of dollars to our national debt over the next couple of decades if we don't repeal it."
He and other repeal supporters have their work cut out. Despite GOP gains expected in both the House and Senate, the pick-ups aren't expected to be enough to overcome a Democratic filibuster in the upper chamber, let alone a presidential veto.
Senate Democrats passed their healthcare bill last December on a strict party-line vote. Feingold, a three-term liberal known for his independent streak, said the law will help "free the American people from the dominance of the health insurance industry."
Johnson on Sunday said Feingold was "the deciding vote" on the bill — a characterization that could fit any of the 58 Democrats and two independent senators who supported the measure.
Recent polls show Johnson, the wealthy founder of a specialty plastics company, has a slight lead.