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

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCommerce Department IG to audit Trump's tariff exemptions Trump trip to rural Wisconsin highlights GOP’s turnout concern GOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer 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 BurrSenate panel seeks interview with Steve Bannon, lawyer says Dems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel 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 TrumpDeath toll in Northern California wildfire rises to 48: authorities Graham backs bill to protect Mueller Denham loses GOP seat in California 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 RyanEarmarks look to be making a comeback Former staffers push Congress for action on sexual harassment measure House Republicans need history lesson in battle over next leader 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 ClintonOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — First lady's office pushes for ouster of national security aide | Trump taps retired general as ambassador to Saudis | Mattis to visit border troops | Record number of female veterans to serve in Congress Election Countdown: Lawsuits fly in Florida recount fight | Nelson pushes to extend deadline | Judge says Georgia county violated Civil Rights Act | Biden, Sanders lead 2020 Dem field in poll | Bloomberg to decide on 2020 by February What midterm exit polls tell us about 2020 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.