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

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGrassley pressured to run as Democrats set sights on Iowa Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines 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. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
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 BurrBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Bipartisan group to issue 'promising' statement on infrastructure path forward First responders shouldn't have to tackle tigers 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 TrumpRonny Jackson, former White House doctor, predicts Biden will resign McCarthy: Pelosi appointing members of Jan. 6 panel who share 'pre-conceived narrative' Kinzinger denounces 'lies and conspiracy theories' while accepting spot on Jan. 6 panel 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 RyanTrump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Cutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce 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 ClintonBiden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Shontel Brown gaining ground against Nina Turner in Ohio: poll Biden hits trail for McAuliffe in test of his political brand 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.