Ron Johnson pledges to retire after serving one more Senate term
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight MORE is pledging to make his next term in the Senate his last if he wins a tough reelection race in November.  

The Wisconsin Republican told the Baraboo News Republic that the 2016 battle would be his final Senate election fight and that he would not run for a potential third term. 
 
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The announcement — confirmed by Johnson's campaign — potentially sets up an open seat in 2022 in Wisconsin, if Johnson can win his current rematch election against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) next month.
 
Feingold currently leads Johnson in the polls by an average of nearly 8 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics, though Republicans have argued for months that the race is closer than what public polling suggests. 
 
Johnson, however, told the local newspaper that he faces an uphill battle to winning reelection next month. 
 
“It’s always a challenge,” he said. “When you look historically at Republican candidates running statewide during a presidential (election), it’s always been a challenge. I don’t think we’ve won a statewide race since 1984 with Reagan.”
 
Some Republicans had speculated that Johnson would retire after one term, but in 2013 he announced his intention to run for reelection. In addition to Johnson, Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Graham: Senate trial 'must expose the whistleblower' GOP chairman says Senate impeachment trial could last 6-8 weeks MORE (R-N.C.), who also faces an increasingly tough reelection fight, told his state's delegates at the Republican National Convention in July that he would retire in 2022 if he wins reelection this year. 
 
Johnson's comments — made to the southern Wisconsin newspaper late last week — have been largely overshadowed by the fierce public backlash over sexually explicit comments Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE made in 2005 about women which The Washington Post published on Friday. 
 
Johnson, who has endorsed Trump, disavowed the remarks and didn't discuss the top of his party's ticket during an event with other Republicans, including House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis Ryan Retirees should say 'no thanks' to Romney's Social Security plan California Governor Newsom and family dress as 2020 Democrats for Halloween DC's liaison to rock 'n' roll MORE (R-Wis.), in Wisconsin on Saturday. 
 
Democrats have hounded Johnson and other vulnerable GOP incumbents for continuing to support the GOP presidential nominee. 
 
Asked about Trump during a local radio interview on Monday, Johnson questioned why Feingold supported Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Manafort sought to hurt Clinton 2016 campaign efforts in key states: NYT MORE despite the Benghazi terrorist attack and her private email server, according to The Associated Press.
 
Questioned — before the release of the 2005 recording — about Trump negatively impacting his race, Johnson told the Baraboo News Republic that "I’m not a political pundit." 
 
"I’m an accountant. I’m a manufacturer from Oshkosh, Wisconsin who stepped up to the plate, and now I’m a U.S. senator. And I’m a U.S. senator who is focusing on these problems," he added.