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

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna Vaccine hesitancy among lawmakers slows return to normalcy on Capitol Hill FBI was aware Giuliani was a target of a Russian influence campaign ahead of 2020 election: report 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 BurrFDA unveils plan to ban menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to country: 'Turning peril into possibility' Budd to run for Senate in NC 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 TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments 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 RyanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Budowsky: Liz Cheney vs. conservatives in name only Cheney at donor retreat says Trump's actions 'a line that cannot be crossed': report 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 ClintonMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' Hillary Clinton: There must be a 'global reckoning' with disinformation Pelosi's archbishop calls for Communion to be withheld from public figures supporting abortion rights 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.