Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R), who is running for re-election this year, recently compared this year’s upcoming race to the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001.
Johnson, according to a recent Politico report, indicated that he was “panicked” about the “consequential” election coming up later this year. During comments made at the Wisconsin Republican Convention in Green Bay this weekend, the Wisconsin senator decided to tell the story of passengers on board United Flight 93, which crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania on the day of the attacks. The passengers on the flight came together and attempted to overpower the hijackers, diverting the plane from its intended target. Their story was notably honored by Paul Greengrass in his 2006 film United 93.
Johnson stated the following in relation to the story:
‘We’ve all heard Todd Beamer’s iconic words, ‘Let’s roll.’ How American is that? We have a job to do, let’s roll up our shirt sleeves. Let’s get it done.
The reason I like telling that story now as we head into the election season is we all know what we need to do. November 2016 we’ll be taking a vote. We’ll be encouraging our fellow citizens to take a vote. Now, it may not be life and death, like the vote passengers on United Flight 93 took, but boy is it consequential.’
A reporter later asked the senator if the comments implied that he is worried about losing the race. He replied back thusly:
‘I actually feel pretty good about the campaign.’
Is he sure? The most recent polling, according to a Real Clear Politics aggregate, indicates that Johnson is currently trailing behind his Democratic opponent Russ Feingold by 5.7 percentage points. The race is being called one of the most hotly contested in the country.
Feingold’s campaign spokesman Michael Tyler had this to say about his opponent’s remarks:
‘It’s beyond bad taste for a sitting senator to compare a horrific national tragedy — one that united all Americans — to his own partisan re-election.’
The Star Tribune reminds us that senatorial races in Wisconsin during presidential elections tend to benefit Democrats the most, due to the often higher turnout they bring with them on the Democratic side. This turnout pattern has made it so that no Republican has ever won a senate race during a presidential election year since 1980.
Johnson acquired the senate seat in 2010 when he ran against Feingold himself, who previously held the position from 1993 all the way to 2011 when he gave it up to his opponent. 2016 will prove to be a rematch of that previous contest.
During his tenure in the senate, Feingold distinguished himself as one of only two sitting Democratic senators to vote against Dodd-Frank on the grounds that it “did not go far enough”. He is often known to break from both Democrat and Republican orthodoxy by voting with his conscience rather than for purely partisan reasons.
His stances have been called “visionary” among progressive Democrats, with John Nichols of The Nation likening the former Senator to current progressive champion Elizabeth Warren in a recent write-up on his campaign. For Democrats of this persuasion, a Feingold victory in Wisconsin is crucial.
Featured image via Getty.