Election Predictions 2022 From Caffeinated Politics: Democrats Retain U.S. Senate, Wisconsin Splits Votes, Democracy On Ballots Nationwide

Let me start this post with something out-of-this-world.  As if the absurdity of some of the political campaigns around the nation has not been enough of an example.  There will be a complete lunar eclipse on November 8th, when the entire moon will illuminate coppery-red from 5:17 A.M. until 6:42 A.M. Eastern Time. Just in time for the polls opening!  Not sure what the Mayans would make of this celestial event of which I take note, but I offer it as the start of this post about my predictions for the 2022 midterm elections, and the unsettled time in which we find ourselves. The fear that might have registered on the faces of Mayans as they gathered at sites near Chichen Itza to watch the moon might be akin to the dread many Americans feel about the health of our democracy as we head to the polls.

(The portion below, prior to the predictions, was written at my desk on the Madison Isthmus on September 14th.  The Tim Michels quote was added at ‘press time’.  I mention this as the themes of the 2022 midterm elections and their critical importance are not new.  Or to be taken lightly.)

Fifty years from now researchers will better try to understand, while historians will employ their best writing skills in explaining, what happened in the midterm elections of 2022. The subtitle for books about this year will be rather pointed, basically asking how voters could not (or willfully would not) understand that fascism is a far greater concern than high gas prices and inflation?  We can add our own thoughts in the current time as to why a sizable swath of conservative Americans have forsaken facts, shunned actual journalism, and disdained being informed even when given all the opportunities that one can avail themselves of in our tech-driven world. (Talk about a reason for education reform in the country!)

If these midterm elections were about policy ideas regarding equitable taxation, a robust debate about reducing our carbon footprint, or adjusting our prison systems to meet the needs of inmates upon their release voters could say, once the voting was completed and counted that win or lose, the elections had merit.  A meaning.  But most of these elections across the nation were not about ideas or policy, even though spending on these elections will be in the billions of dollars. (At the time of publication spending on federal and state midterm campaigns had topped $16 billion, the most expensive in our nation’s history.)  Due to a continuous and willfully desired chipping away at the foundations of our political institutions and electoral processes in many races from coast to coast, the very essence of what makes our nation a working democracy is on the ballot. That is just a stunning and dispiriting fact.

Using the Big Lie from Donald Trump as the foundation with races for congress, attorney general, governor, and statehouse seats has placed nearly 305 white conservative candidates on the ballot who refuse to accept the presidential election of 2020.  I make the point concerning the ethnicity of the candidates as the angry white base of Republican voters are the ones who have brought this nation to the precarious place it is today. It is that segment of voters that historians will study to understand what made them turn against democracy and the ideals of our nation. The internal danger to our nation at this time, in my estimation, has never been higher since the South sought to undermine the United States in early 1861. It was then, too, that angry whites sought to undermine democracy.

The impending threats Republican candidates have made about the fate of our future elections have not been nuanced.  Many actions to curtail voters started shortly after Trump lost in 2020.   They have made bold statements about their fascist intentions. Senator Ron Johnson cannot even commit to accepting the results of the election.  As I publish this post Johnson stated for the press “I sure hope I can”. Elsewhere in Wisconsin, Tim Michels, the GOP nominee for governor stated it clearly with a bullhorn effect.  “Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor”.  This is where our democracy has landed. Badger State taxpayers saw their money spent to placate the most absurd of the Republican base by employing an ex-Supreme Court justice who I suggested at the time he served—should write his opinions in crayon. It was most remarkable when Michael Gableman aped out in 2022 that caricature!  

The threat of election victories of attorney generals who are not wedded to facts or federal candidates who disregard commitments to electoral integrity means a grave threat to our future electoral rigors and accountability is in store. 

Every two years, since 1980, I have placed my thoughts and predictions into print regarding the races on the ballot.  I thrill to politics and history and while this biannual undertaking has always been entertaining and hopeful, I find this year it feels weighty and foreboding. The best and brightest ideals have given way to the base of the Republican Party; conservative voters and many candidates who have proven most worthy of being defined as absurd, witless, and unschooled.  Election Night will be a tough one for anyone who ever cared about this place called America. Though I predict Democrats retain the U.S. Senate the damage that has been done to our democracy due to some of the Republican candidates and their voters will take a very long time to be reversed. Brown shirts are sure to be selling briskly in some places around the nation come Wednesday morning. (How soon before they round up bloggers?)


While most folks will be watching the Georgia Senate race or the congressional race in Western Wisconsin, (those and many other races are ones this blogger will be keenly monitoring too), I want to call attention to what will be taking place in legislative races and which party will control one, or both chambers, of a statehouse in January. And why it seriously matters.

The Supreme Court will hear Moore v. Harper, which involves a challenge to gerrymandered congressional maps in North Carolina and in so doing very well could (given the unbridled conservative ideological whims of the Court) rule for what is known as independent state legislature theory. It is an attempt for undermining democracy being pushed by conservative zealots who brought us, Donald Trump.  In a nutshell—quite literally–this crazed interpretation of the Constitution claims that state legislatures have unfettered authority to set rules for federal elections and cannot be countermanded by any other state-based entities, thus eliminating any checks and balances.  In the pending court case, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected the radical argument that the state legislature had the sole authority to draw congressional maps without consideration of the state constitution and without review by state courts. The court correctly concluded that the ISL theory would upend long-settled precedent and is “repugnant to the sovereignty of states, the authority of state constitutions, and the independence of state courts, and would produce absurd and dangerous consequences.” Nonetheless, continuing its radical quest, the North Carolina legislature asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and reinstate its maps.

If the court does so state legislatures could have a pathway to overrule the popular vote in presidential elections by refusing to certify the results and instead sending their own slates of electors. Consider the fact that 44% of Republicans in crucial swing-state legislatures used the power of their office to discredit or try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The data was compiled by The New York Times.

Republicans have complete control over legislatures in states that have a total of 307 electoral votes — 37 more than needed to win a presidential election. They hold majorities in several battleground states, meaning that if the Supreme Court endorsed the legal theory, a close presidential election could be overturned if just a few states assigned alternate slates of electors.

Democrats’ chances of bringing Republicans’ total below 270 are narrow: They would need to flip the Michigan Senate or the Arizona Senate, and then one chamber in both Pennsylvania and New Hampshire in 2024, in addition to defending the chambers the party currently controls.

Democrats and Republicans have set their sights on half a dozen states where state legislatures — or at least a single chamber — could flip in November. Democrats hope to wrest back one of the chambers in Michigan and the Arizona Senate and flip the Minnesota Senate. Republicans aim to win back the Minnesota House of Representatives and take control of one chamber, or both, in the Maine, Colorado, and Nevada legislatures. They are also targeting Oregon and Washington.

Now you, too, know why state legislative races far from your living room on Election Night matter.

In Wisconsin, though the legislature will remain deeply red due to the lack of redistricting reform, it seems a very steep climb to me to reach a veto-proof majority this cycle.  I predict this GOP yearning is not achieved.  If they were to achieve their desire it would require flipping five seats in the Assembly, and one in the Senate.

In WI 25th Senate District, to put a face to the reason why I made my prediction is that Democrat Kelly Westlund, a former staff member for Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has run a tough and smart campaign.  She has connected with rural voters—a must in this district—and will defeat Republican Romaine Quinn by 2%. Democrats have proven strong at the ballot box in this region and will do so again this cycle.

United States Senate

The United States Senate will be retained in Democratic hands. The historical tide is certainly against the party in power in the White House. The economy, a barometer for any election, is a deep concern for many voters.  But there will be just enough voters in just the right states to keep one chamber of Congress in the hands of proven supporters of democracy. The effect Trump-endorsed candidates will have on the electorate in the key three states holds the primary reason as to why Monday morning quarterbacking from the GOP will simply be precious to hear. (Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona—listed in line with when their polls close.)  In these admittingly close races, each of the Republican nominees was an Election 2020 denier.  While I might be called out on these predictions being just wishful thinking I believe the races will break for the Democratic candidate in each case due to voters saying, ‘this is a serious office and needs a serious person’.

I also want to note the group in the nation that I will be closely following in senate voter returns.  The Hispanic and Latino vote is growing, and its power cannot be discounted. Currently, 38 members of the House are Latino, and some estimates over the past weeks have placed the number at 45 following Election Night. Hispanics are the largest racial and ethnic minority group in the country. They numbered 62.1 million in the 2020 Census or about 19% of the U.S. population. There are two places I am watching for how this segment of the electorate casts their ballots.  In Nevada and their unionized cities, and then in Florida’s Miami-Dade County. The former will be key to which candidate wins, and the latter is just nerdy political watching. I am not predicting that the Flordia county goes red. Not at all. But I am prepared for a bit of a shocker in the numbers that will be cast at the polls, given the election history of this place. Hispanics make up almost 60% of the electorate there, and I wish to point out that Hillary Clinton won by almost 30% in 2016.  Ron DeSantis lost the county by more than 20 points four years ago. But as Florida Hispanics are proving to be more conservative what will they show us at the polls this year? You see now why this county is one to watch and why the conservative nature of some Hispanic voters will be one both political parties will need to contend with in years to come.

Georgia….If there is one Senate race that just baffles me–as well as nauseates me–it is Hershel Walker’s efforts in Georgia. In late summer, I was reading Henry Clay: The Essential American by David and Jeanne Heidler where Senate luminaries like Daniel Webster and William Seward lifted off the pages to be reckoned with as the daily newspapers in the pile on the floor alongside me reported on the latest behavior of Walker. It was a stark contrast that just could not be missed. A serious and very important elected office could be occupied by a complete embarrassment—the very type of character that conservatives railed about when welfare reform was thy issue. Now conservative Republicans have embraced and adopted into their camp for tribal purposes someone they would in any other scenario lambast. The absurdity makes for additional proof of why the GOP has become a punchline for every dinner party in the nation. It certainly solidifies national views that there is always a lower level to the basement when it comes to Republican choices for their nominees. Raphael Warnock wins by 175,000 votes. No runoff. Key will be women, and Blacks who will support Stacy Abrams, (who will lose her race for governor) and due to that sliver of religious conservatives who will not cast a ballot for Walker due to his repeated boorish behavior. Think back to how a sliver of conservatives pulled back their vote in 1992 on the national ticket. Those votes matter.

Nevada….Democrats lose a seat as Adam Laxalt wins over incumbent Catherine Masto. The reason I mention this race is how a single county in the state will prove to be the story of the night for Nevadans. Much like Sauk County in Wisconsin is often viewed as the state’s political barometer, so too does Washoe County play that role in Nevada.  When one looks at the political alignment of the county it is clear the numbers do not tilt blue or red. Similar numbers of registered Republicans (100,000) and Democrats (95,000), with about 82,000 more Washoe residents registered as nonpartisan.  So, keep your apps, regardless of whichever election sights you are monitoring on Election Night, keyed to Washoe County.  A blowout in Washoe and it is over in that state.  

Ohio….If it were not for the track record of this state leaning more conservative I would predict that a Democratic victory was possible. I would base such a call on the fact that heading into Election Day GOP Governor Mike DeWine who is up for reelection sports a strong 15% lead while senate nominee J.D. Vance is regarded as the worst campaigner in the nation. OK, maybe tied with Arizona’s Democratic nominee for governor, Katie Hobbs. Vance is lazy, disjointed in conversation, and seemingly bored most of the time. With DeWine blowing his opponent away, Vance is in a dead heat with ever-ready, energized, and truly intelligent, Tim Ryan. I am not going to engage in what-ifs during this prediction post, but if I did, the question of where the SDCC was during the past six months would be questions 1, 2, and 3 when it comes to this race. Vance wins and if he thought the campaign was tedious, let him try out committee hearings. Middle-class Republican voters lost a great deal for falling for someone who fluffs Donald Trump.

Wisconsin….Many of us grew up learning about the painful and damaging chapter in our nation’s history that was due to Joe McCarthy.  Lives were ruined, some committed suicide, and national policy was twisted while priorities were skewered due to an alcoholic senator who falsely raved about communists being everywhere.  Now Ron Johnson, a-COVID-vaccine-denying-Big-Lie-advocate-and-democracy-damaging Republican is doing our state another massive disservice. Regardless of the metric used, Johsnon is the most absurd U.S. Senator now serving. Using racist ads and blatant lies he easily defeats (by 3%) Mandela Barnes. The question is of course, not what was wrong with Joe, or what condition currently plagues Ron, but rather what is wrong with us…the voters in the Badger State who allow this to happen? The shame is on the electorate who falls for such rubbish on a ballot.

I have placed my predictions for the contested seats in blue or red.  I do not believe, just for clarification purposes, that Georgia will require a run-off election. Due to ranked voting in Alaska, I predict that Lisa Murkowski will be reelected, and the attempt to undermine Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell through the Trump-backed candidacy of Kelly Tshibaka will fail.

U.S. House Races

The House of Representatives will be in Republican hands when the new session convenes in January.  When all the ballots are counted, I predict the GOP will have a majority with 18 members.

Alaska….Democrat Mary Peltola will continue to win, as she did earlier this year. She faces, among others in the ranked voting congressional match-up, Wasilla Hillbilly Sarah Palin. Palin has worked to dumb-down her would-be voters by attacking ranked voting. Apparently, Scholastic Weekly Reader has not had a story on this manner of voting so as to assist Palin with her education. After this election, Palin will fully grasp her time on the national stage is over. As a result, we will never again need to hear her call another female candidate a “chick”!

FL-10th….Maxwell Alejandro Frost gets mentioned here for the simple reason he will be the first Gen Z member of Congress after winning his primary victory in this safely Democratic district.  Just a slice of history is the reason I note this man.

GA- 2nd…..Given there are 435 House seats it is truly troubling that only a very small number are what can be called competitive. The need for redistricting reform can be viewed all night long in America as the votes are counted.  Only a small number are in question as to the outcome. One of them will be in Georgia where Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop, the longest-serving member of the state’s delegation squares off with GOP nominee Chris West. As I watched and read about elections for this November it turns out this congressional race is the only competitive one in the entire SouthThink about that.  Voters should demand redistricting reform. Bishop is part of the Blue Dog Democratic coalition and with his decades of experience working with white farmers and having deep roots in the Black community, he prevails.

NY-17th….Every election has one of those shockers, except this one was seen coming down the tracks for the past 2 weeks. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Sean Maloney will be defeated.  His hubris was way out of control when he selected to run in the 17th as opposed to the 18th, the one he had represented. Getting new voters to know him and like him has not been easy. It needs to be noted that President Biden won this area by 10% in 2020.  Michael Lawler makes a little history with his predicted win by beating a DCCC member of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

WV 2nd…If Allen Drury were alive and writing books this plot line would be one of his creations. I only add this race as it does remind me of the famed author’s creative and lively narratives. The gay subplot in Advise and Consent crossed my mind with this race where right-wing conservative Congressman Alex Mooney, a  Trump-backed Christian conservative who is anti-abortion, pro-coal, and thinks marriage should be ‘between a man and a woman’ faces his complete opposite on the ballot. The Democratic candidate, Barry Wendell, is an openly gay Jewish man who supports abortion rights and replacing fossil fuels with clean energy.  The Republican wins, but at least I was able to easily place Drury, a favorite of mine, into this prediction post.

WI 3rd….Central casting could not have offered a better person to fit the role of a congressional candidate for this district had they tried. This week, as Indian Summer made for glorious afternoons in Madison, I was discussing the election with a biker in the neighborhood. I mentioned that Brad Pfaff is the modern-day Andy Hardy. He might overplay his lines a bit and strikes me at times as being over-rehearsed but Pfaff receives high praise for his strong and correct stand for democratic (small d) values.  The very ones I wrote about at the top of this post. His troubling and low-brow Republican opponent, Derrick Van Orden, was at the insurrection on Jan 6th.  That lack of character and his desire to foment political discord should alert voters to a glaring lack of honor.  But for many conservative voters, honor, and regard for our national ideals is not as important as their tribal politics.  The seat held by Congressman Ron Kind turns unpatriotic red.

Governor Races

Michigan….No one should need to consider if they will be kidnapped while holding an elective office. Yet, that is precisely what Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer confronted as 13 men orchestrating a domestic terror plot to kidnap her while also plotting violence to overthrow the state government. My glee for the predicted victory for Whitmer will be stronger perhaps than for any other governor…. even my own in Wisconsin when Tony Evers wins.  That is due to the fact the Michigan voters, based on news stories and Op-Ed pages in their newspapers over this summer and fall paint an electorate that knows one salient fact. Given the absolute threat to democracy’s survival, there is no place for a wishy-washy citizen. Whitmer wins by 3%.

Oklahoma….I strongly sense that some news will be made in the interior of the nation that will be greeted with smiles on the faces of Democrats late Tuesday night.   Democrat Joy Hofmeister will do something that many said could not happen.  She will defeat incumbent Republican Governor Kevin Stitt. Yes, she is a lifelong Republican who switched parties to tangle with the ethically challenged Stitt. But she is a strong supporter of education, understood the gravity of the COVID pandemic, and will prove to be a bit of a tonic on Election Night.  I suspect a very, very tight win.  But still, a win for Hofmeister.

Wisconsin….Tony Evers wins by 37,000 votes.  Another close victory for the Democratic candidate.  Why there is ticket-splitting among Republicans for candidates on the Wisconsin ballot can be explained here. One of the striking similarities I have heard in many conversations since the August Primary is how some self-defined Republicans were upset with how Tim Michels came into the state with huge amounts of money and undid all the painstakingly grassroots efforts of Rebecca Kleefisch. In each of these conversations from stores in Madison, to a Spring Green outdoor theatre, and online chats each of these voters had one thing in common. Each was a woman. They were not able to support the Republican nominee. Add in the abortion factor and the narrow loss by Michels coming Tuesday can be better understood.

Below is the blue and red alignment of the races for governor as I predict them on Election Night.

Attorney General Races

Wisconsin….The days when this state split votes between top races are not over. 2022 will prove that case as Ron Johnson wins, but so do Tony Evers and Josh Kaul.  Women and abortion are key as to why I feel able to predict this race, along with what I am growing to believe, more and more, will be a strong turnout on university campuses (especially Madison and Milwaukee). One example of my views is shaped by two women, both political campaign professionals from Boston, who flew in for a week to work the campuses locally up to Election Day.  They stayed rent-free with a neighbor. The numbers of early voters from these areas are most impressive.  Kaul prevails.

Drinking Referendums 

My Mom grew up in Arkansas, so I have for many years–since the internet came into being–followed regional news from the Northwest region of the state. So, I predict that Rogers and Bentonville residents will vote separately on allowing Sunday alcohol sales in each of the cities. Currently is it illegal to sell alcohol, unless it’s served in restaurants, bars, or breweries, on Sundays, but residents can vote to allow it. And they will.

School Boards

Yes, even school board races in Arkansas get a nod this year.  I do so as it aligns with the theme of this year’s campaigns, and the place our nation finds itself. At the Bentonville School District in Arkansas, the Board has five seats up for election. There are seven seats, in total.  In, and of itself, that would not carry weight for this biannual posting.  What is disturbing is that, once again, candidates in a school race have received assistance and endorsements from the hostile-to-facts group, 1776 Project PAC based in ……yes….New York. The candidates accepted in-kind campaigning in the form of a flyer mailed to residents and text messages to Bentonville voters. Just to put this aid into context the 1776 Project has spent between $25,000 and $30,000 total on the races, according to the news from the organization. While I desire balanced and reasoned members to be elected to school boards it must be understood that this should not be a place for conservative groups to play politics.  When fact-less claims are made by conservatives about curricula regarding transgender students or how racial history is studied voters must put their foot down firmly in the ballot box and say to a bogus outside group, ENOUGH!  I can only surmise that partisan outsiders pushing an agenda will be met with disagreeing voters.  I predict a majority of the ones lying about CRT will be rejected by the voters.  It needs noting the Bentonville School District says none of the New York group’s claims are true. I add, just as they have not been true in the many other places around the nation, where racists like to make partisan mischief.

School Referendums

The lack of proper education funding is most evident in 81 ballot measures facing voters across the Badger State.  Parents do not desire steep cuts to programming, and school boards are being responsive to the needs of families. Hence, a steep increase in the need to head to referendums to stop the painful choices too many schools are being forced into by the legislature’s lack of action. There are eight questions before voters in Dane County and I predict all will pass with room to spare.  But then comes the question about the outcome of such ballot measures in the rural areas of the state. Now that it is the law for such ballot issues to be placed on general election-type days, it needs to be asked how many conservatives who go to the polling places to support the likes of Ron Johnson, can be counted on to also support local education?  No, I am not closing this prediction post with a joke. While there are 39 capital referendums facing voters be mindful that more than half of all the questions before Wisconsin voters with a school referendum (42 of them) deal with issues of staffing and utility bills.  Republicans in the legislature placed school districts in this position. Many of the voters this fall voted for those elected Republicans. Will those conservative voters now do the right thing or cut off their local education funding for the sake of their political purity?

Senate Debate: Ron Johnson Pretends Protests, Even Violent Ones, Mirror Insurrection At U.S. Capitol

Well, the Friday night Senate debate between the two candidates was cheaper than a night at an actual theater. But then again, we got what we paid for. There were, however, several strong impressions that were made in the hour-long event from Milwaukee between Ron Johnson and Mandela Barnes.

First, it was very evident that Mandela Barnes presented himself as having the gravitas to be the next elected senator. It always serves an opponent well when demonstrating the ability to stand alongside an incumbent and never miss a beat. While I still am not sure the lack of a tie was the correct look for a statewide debate, the effortless command of facts and the ability to think quickly and fashion the conversation in a way that answered questions while also broadening an understanding of Barnes’ positions surely places him in good stead in the minds of voters.

There was one issue in the debate where I strongly disagreed with Barnes, as I remain one of those old-fashioned citizens who can not accept the idea that marijuana poses no harm.  I reject the idea that government should strongly embrace pot sales or pardon those who broke drug laws.  I find it problematic that marijuana’s negative ramifications are not taken seriously, even to the point that a senate nominee can say there is no problem with the drug. 

But what really stood out with glaring alarm in the debate was the suggestion, made twice by Ron Johnson, that protests in places like Kenosha that turned violent in 2020 were somehow on the same level as the seditious insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.  It was a calibrated way to deflect from the outrageous and illegal actions of Donald Trump and his supporters. But even more concerning to me, in so doing, Johnson allowed for a most dangerous denial concerning the gravity of the calamity to our democracy that almost occurred. 

How is Johnson, with much time to reflect and ponder that day not yet able to grasp a branch of the federal government was threatened by terrorists, a threat to the heart of our national government not seen since 9/11? Why was it so hard for Johnson to gather up enough steam and outrage during the debate to wade into the harmful impact of the armed and angry Trump base who invaded the Capitol as he did with those who rioted in a small city?  How and why was Johnson so timid about addressing this matter in a statewide debate, given it was his very own workplace that was attacked?  If one cannot stand up 34 months later (if my math is correct) to the ruthless and barbaric mob at the Capitol one must ask if there is enough courage left for him to undertake even the simple aspects of a senator’s job?

By the end of the debate, it was clear the two candidates had shown the public very much, indeed.  One proved that he was able to do the job if elected, and the other demonstrated a fear of being honest about what every voter knows to be true, since we all watched the Capitol riot live on Jan. 6th.

Wisconsin Embarrassed Over Senator Ron Johnson’s Election Stealing Plot

In 1787 Ben Franklin was leaving Independence Hall upon the conclusion of work at the Constitutional Convention when someone asked what had resulted from the months of work.

History records Franklin responding with “A republic, if you can keep it.”

That quip from what we all most certainly learned in our middle school years came to mind when hearing that Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson sought an avenue to undermine our electoral process and endanger our republic.

A top aide to Sen. Ron Johnson attempted to arrange a handoff of false, pro-Trump electors from the senator to Mike Pence just minutes before the then-vice president began to count electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.

The aide, Sean Riley, told Pence’s legislative director Chris Hodgson that Johnson wanted to hand Pence lists of the fake electors from Michigan and Wisconsin for Pence to introduce during the counting of electoral votes that certified Joe Biden’s win. The attempt was revealed in text messages obtained by the Jan. 6 select committee during its fourth public hearing on Tuesday.

As Huffington Post strongly inferred in their reporting there is no way to not hold your nose when reading what was attempted when Donald Trump used every means possible to deny Joe Biden his duly elected office.

Trump’s team asked supporters to falsely claim that they were the electors who represented the states’ voters ― and to sign phony slates purportedly delivering Electoral College votes to Trump. The strategy sought to prevent Pence’s certification of the real Electoral College result on Jan. 6, 2021.

During its third hearing, the House committee investigating Trump supporters’ attack on the U.S. Capitol that day unveiled the text messages between Riley and Hodgson and an additional message from a top Republican official.

In a Jan. 4 text, Wisconsin Republican Party Executive Director Mark Jefferson wrote: “Freaking trump idiots want someone to fly original elector papers to the senate President.”

The revelation that Johnson tried to give Pence false ballots creates a clear link between the senator and the campaign to overturn the 2020 election. And it underscores the range of public and private ways that prominent Republicans supported Trump’s bid to defy voters and hold on to power while fueling the outrage that drove the assault on the Capitol.

Trump was rejecting the vote counts and also impugning the integrity of the process that our nation relies on for the peaceful transfer of power. Those actions were not only outlandish, but exceedingly un-democratic, and dangerous.

Johnson was aiding and abetting that absurd behavior by also working to subvert an election and seeking to undermine faith in the electoral process.

Throughout life many of us have political opinions, some of them strongly held. As history proves repeatedly such varying views and perspectives are what democracy requires to grow and strengthen. But what has been added in a larger dose to that mix over the past several years is out-and-out liars and demagogues in elected offices.

The platforms they are able to act from allowing for their distorted and harmful rhetoric to reach more people; some being unable to reason that everything a failed president or a headline-seeking senator says may not be true.

Johnson’s dangerous actions and continuing themes to the Republican base, which has proven to be easily deluded, have aided in creating a climate where a final and decisive outcome to the 2020 election in the minds of the GOP base is not possible. That is tremendously dangerous for our nation going forward.

To attempt at undermining a legally, and unambiguous victory for the winner of the election, is THY most damaging action of Trump’s term in office. It is the darkest skid mark of his presidency.

I understand that so much has occurred in the nation since summer 2015, but even so, try to take a step back and consider the audacity that was pointed out in the Jan. 6 hearing today. A sitting senator went out of his way to step on the rule of law, our political institutions, and the election processes of our nation.

To have the nation learn that a Wisconsin senator was involved in a plot that even James Patterson could not concoct with a straight face is more than we should have to endure. I am tired of being embarrassed repeatedly by the actions and words of Ron Johnson. I strongly suspect many of my fellow state residents concur.

The Jan. 6th House Committee is proving what happens when using the poorly informed citizenry for hyper-partisan purposes. The dagger that was placed at the heart of our republic was real and remains a continuing threat. That is why I remain so concerned about the overt messaging of continued lies and the undermining of our institutions which has become a theme among national Republicans.

The attempted subversion of our electoral system to meet Trump’s own twisted and deranged personal ends is precisely what dictators do when the voters say ENOUGH! This is what autocrats do when they feel they have nowhere to hide in the light of day or are unable to play by the rules and laws of normal society.

We do not, however, expect a Wisconsin senator to be a part of such diabolic plots. We simply must have both Wisconsin senators mindful of Franklin’s words from the 18th century.

Senator Ron Johnson Owes Wisconsin An Apology For Being Party To Vaccine/AIDS Lies

There are a number of weighty issues the nation needs to engage in as a war rages in Eastern Europe, medical professionals forecast a sharp increase in COVID cases this fall and into the winter, and a report that there are almost 2 open jobs waiting to be filled for every person who is employed in the nation.

Those three topics are but a sampling of what a working member of congress could be preoccupied with any hour of the day, any day of the week.

So it was most alarming to read this past week that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson found the time to saddle alongside Todd Callender, who is a wild-eyed anti-vaccination zealot. That is a charitable characterization on my part.

During the bizarre teleconference campaign event for Johnson, Callender linked COVID vaccines as causing AIDS.

“You’ve got more than 100 doctors here, all of whom will tell you that these shots caused vaccine-induced AIDS. They purposefully gave people AIDS”.

Now, before I go one sentence further I must address in a factual way this absolute lie. Having been employed by Madison’s AIDS Network in 2003, in part to fashion the start of a program for medication adherence, I know how vital facts are to this disease. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and is not caused by vaccines. Furthermore, AIDS is the third stage of HIV and when AIDS occurs, the immune system has been severely damaged.  PERIOD.

I also know the need for science to be respected, medical professionals heeded, and how tremendously effective medications are for ones in need, regardless of the disease up for discussion. So it was very concerning to read that once again Johnson was attempting to smear a vaccine that is proving worldwide to be a significant change-maker.

What was shocking and utterly dismaying was how Johnson gave wiggle room and oxygen to Callender’s crazy notion that maybe the coronavirus vaccines are a means of deliberately transmitting AIDS. In the video conference not once does Johnson fight back in any way on the idea that vaccines caused AIDS.

The video shows that Johnson says, “Everything you say may be true, but right now the public views the vaccines as largely safe and effective, that vaccine injuries are rare and mild. That is the narrative. That’s what the vast majority of the public accepts. So until we get a larger percentage of the population with their eyes open, to: Whoa, these vaccine injuries are real. Why? You’ve got to do step by step.”

I felt we knew Johnson’s full lack of appreciation for science when in 2010 he announced that “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change”. He added, “It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time.”

During the COVID pandemic, however, we have been treated to Johnson’s absolute rejection of science with wildly ridiculous statements over and over again, such as suggesting that mouthwash would cure the problem.

He was not shy about suggesting that it was acceptable to lose between 1% and 3 % of the American population so to keep the economy in the nation pushing forward. That would be upwards of 3 million of our fellow citizens dying.

 “….getting coronavirus is not a death sentence except for maybe no more than 3.4 percent of our population”.

Acting with callous disregard for the citizens of the state is one thing, as with the above statement, but being a part of the spreading of absolute lies about the public vaccines in relation to AIDS requires more than moving on to the next campaign event.

It requires a full-throated and sincere apology from Ron Johnson to Wisconsin.

The vaccines have proven to be highly effective in reducing deaths and hospitalizations and it is unacceptable for a United State Senator to in any way be a party to the spreading of lies about such a life-saving measure.

Yes, Johnson is in election mode, but that does not negate his responsibility to put health care facts above whatever demographic within the Republican Party he was playing to with Callender.

It is true that many of Johnson’s past statements lacked empathy, and were just weird. But being party to the spreading of groundless and dangerous lies about the vaccine is a step into a moral hole Johnson needs to apologize for now.

And so it goes.

Conservative Republicans, Like Ron Johnson, Play To Under-Educated Base

There seems to be a race underway in the nation where elected conservative Republicans seek to dive deeper into absurdity in an attempt to be nuttier than the previous one.

In Wisconsin, we were offered more outlandish buffoonery from Senator Ron Johnson who stated in a town hall meeting he had an idea about combatting COVID.

“Standard gargle, mouthwash, has been proven to kill the coronavirus. If you get it, you may reduce viral replication. Why not try all these things?” (For the record this is not actual science and rebuked by medical professionals.)

Kentucky Republican Congressman Thomas Massie posed his family in front of a decorated tree with all hefting military-type assault weapons for a Christmas greeting, shortly after the Oxford High School gun massacre.

Meanwhile, Tom McMillin, a Republican from Oakland Township, proposed in a social media post that mandatory school attendance be removed in Michigan. He is a member of the Michigan State Board of Education!

I recall during my years as Door County Democratic Chairperson talking with a wide array of people at events such as the annual fair or when campaigning door-to-door for local candidates. At times, I encountered some of the most unbelievable sets of views and ideas that could be imagined. So what is being reported, all too often, in our newspapers and online is not new. Right-wing lunacy has long-been part of our political narrative.

What is so troubling now, however, is that instead of the tin-foil hatted folks being aberrations in the party they now are the base of the GOP. But that is not how I first came to know conservatives.

In my teenage years, I started watching Firing Line with William F. Buckley. He was a conservative with a vocabulary that reached out through the television set and made me sit up and pay attention. In my rural upbringing reasoned approaches to the world seemed utterly sound to me. Then I graduated from high school, left home, and encountered the world.

My first job was working in radio broadcasting in Door County. With a red streak that then ran very deep, the local politics was not for a faint-hearted liberal Democrat. I found, however, that the vast majority on the other side of the aisle were logical and reasoned with varying points and perspectives about the issues of the day.

The conspiracy-laden John Birch Society and the truly unhinged Posse Comitatus crowd were in the county, and not ashamed to spill their views when answering their front door during an election year. Tigerton Dells was then a topic in Wisconsin and those headlines concerning the Posse seemed to embolden that segment of the electorate. I was soon most aware that enlightenment liberalism was not spread evenly across our state.

But that element was a narrow sliver of the whole. Today, however, the under-educated within the GOP revel in their status and expect the rest of us to meet them at that level. Republican officeholders encourage the ridiculous ideas and notions so as to retain power, rather than seeking to better inform and lift up the voters.

There have always been times of great transition and uncertainty in the nation where politicians have used fear to spin a message and gain office. Today class divisions and market revolutions, continuing demand for power and rights among groups from Blacks to transgenders, along with a shifting electorate that is more brown and diverse provide the combustible elements for current conservative pols.

But what is most dismaying is the low level that conservative Republicans will dive into when playing to their base. Such tactics are dangerous to a democracy that does rely on educated citizens to make sound decisions about the path forward for a nation.

John Adams wrote the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780. Though he penned that public education should be at the heart of that state’s understanding of government, it is easy to see how elected officeholders can, and should, also be teachers and ones who impart facts to the citizenry. He wrote that “wisdom and knowledge . . . diffused generally among the body of the people [are] necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties.”

I wish conservative Republicans would ponder the role they need to play when speaking to their base of support.

And so it goes.

Ron Johnson Pulls A Lyndon Johnson And Tells The Truth, Both Men Recorded

The front page of the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesday, September 1st, was not only an account of the latest news to be reported. Above the fold on the front page was also a reminder as to why duplicity is never a good quality to be found in our elected officials.

Reporter Riley Vetterkind wrote that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson recently said: “there’s nothing obviously skewed about the results” of the 2020 presidential election in the Badger State.

The weight of that remark from Johnson made to Lauren Windsor, who posed as a conservative when speaking to the Senator is most important. She recorded the conversation as executive producer of the liberal political web show The Undercurrent, and also runs Project Veritas Exposed, an effort to unveil the work of Project Veritas, a conservative organization that has secretly recorded Democrats and liberals.

Within hours after the close of presidential balloting across our nation in November 2020, a concerted effort started so to create a climate where a final and decisive outcome, within the minds of some voters, was not possible. There has never been such an unseemly display before in our country where the continuous peaceful handing off of presidential power was attempted to be thwarted.

The all-out attempt to delude and utterly confuse a sizable segment of Donald Trump’s conservative base into believing that chicanery and out-right illegal actions had prevented Trump from prevailing remains the darkest hours of his term. Those actions still pose a danger to the country.

To undermine a legally and unambiguous victory to the winner of the 2020 election remains a dangerous dagger to the heart of our democracy. Overtly adding doubt and fomenting chaos when an election is over erodes the faith in elections that must be retained by the citizenry.

Yet that is precisely what Ron Johnson did.

Johnson has elevated theories that have cast doubt on the election’s results.

In December, after Trump’s campaign had lost its Wisconsin election lawsuits in both state and federal courts, Johnson held a hearing where he invited one of the president’s lawyers, Jim Troupis, to testify. Troupis proceeded to assert the same theories that had been rejected in multiple courts.

Troupis testified that “more than 200,000” Wisconsin residents did not vote legally in Wisconsin, a number that included more than 170,000 residents who voted early at their local clerk’s office using a form that had been in place for more than a decade. Troupis himself was among those voters.

The duplicity can be then proved in Johnson’s recorded comments to Windsor.

“There’s nothing obviously skewed about the results,” Johnson told the woman. “There isn’t. Collectively, Republicans got 1.661 million votes, 51,000 votes more than Trump got. Trump lost by 20,000. If Trump got all the Republicans, if all the Republicans voted for Trump the way they voted for the Assembly candidates … he would have won. He didn’t get 51,000 votes that other Republicans got. And that’s why he lost.”

When I read the newspaper article I thought of another Johnson who talked publicly to the nation with one set of words, and then privately, also in a recording, had a much different view on the topic of the day.

President Lyndon Johnson was determined not to lose Vietnam on his watch to the communists. He made it clear to the nation he was going to be committed to victory. But in private Johnson was honest and knew he playing a losing game with the lives of the Marines he was then sending to South East Asia.

On Feb. 26, 1965, when Johnson orders his secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, to launch Operation Rolling Thunder, which will drop more bombs on the North Vietnamese than on all of Europe in World War II, he is melancholy. “Now we’re off to bombing these people,” he says. “We’re over that hurdle. I don’t think anything is going to be as bad as losing, and I don’t see any way of winning.”

A week later, when he decides to send Marine battalions to Vietnam, Johnson gloomily tells Senate Armed Services chairman Richard Russell, “The great trouble I’m under [is that] a man can fight if he can see daylight down the road somewhere. But there ain’t no daylight in Vietnam. There’s not a bit.”

I realize we ask a lot of any elected official. We want them to respond with helpful advice concerning constituent problems, support our views on the complex issues of the day, and arrive on time for the summer parades in our communities. We know that these men and women are human, and make mistakes.

But there is no way to rationalize away or pretend otherwise when it comes to the unconscionable way Johnson has played so loose and fast with one of the essential threads of the fabric which binds our democracy together. Being forthright and honest is a virtue that we try to impart to our children. It is certainly one that we must demand when it comes to a United States Senator.

History shows what happens when duplicity replaces honesty and candor.

And so it goes.

What If Ron Johnson Does Not Run For Senate?

If a politician were seeking another term in office would they say the types of things that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has over the past year? While national politics can be overly frothy does not Wisconsin values hope for a more credible foundation from our top elected officials?

During the past months, I have reached a conclusion, based on his behavior, that Johnson is not seeking another Senate term. Whether he is tired, bored, or seeking another path in life no one looking to garner support among the electorate talks so bizarrely.

Perhaps the most over-the-top moment occurred when Johnson voiced support for using hydroxychloroquine against the COVID-19 virus, which forced YouTube to suspend his account. We, of course, have been treated to a number of such truly befuddling statements.

“This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me”

If you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not?”

One could continue the listing of truly odd and troubling quotes from Johnson. My point is not to prove his lack of awareness about issues of the day but rather how adrift he is from acting as a serious contender for another 6-year term in office. Especially given that Johnson would be the only incumbent Republican running in a state won by President Joe Biden.

So what happens when Johnson makes an announcement about spending more time with his wife and taking long vacations rather than seeking re-election?

The Democratic Party will have no problem locating talent for the 2022 race. State Senators Chris Larson, and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes are but two names in the arena, and the base will be very energized to replace Johnson with one of their own.

Without an elder statesman of the Republican Party at this juncture, however, given Scott Walker was defeated and Paul Ryan retired, means Wisconsin’s GOP would be in a bind should Johnson see the election writing on the wall and depart, too. At that point, the Senate primary fight will be a very expensive venture.

Surely it will be mean-spirited, too.

Consider what will be required of a candidate to attract the Trump base in August, and still need the independent and middle-of-the-road voters in the general election. We have heard the type of remarks Johnson made to that base and one needs to ask how many other Republicans would be willing to act in like fashion? Is a Senate seat truly worth it if one has to sell out principles and common sense just to get the nomination?

The question will soon be–I strongly suspect–who among state Republicans wish to head in that direction and then think they can weave the stitch to capture the broader electorate in the fall race come 2022?

It will not be pretty, but it will be grand political theater.

And so it goes.

Hey Ron Johnson, Bipartisanship Is A Grand Way To Govern

When it comes to Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson there is really only one certainty we can say about the man. Without knowing what topic he will land on, we can be assured that what he says will challenge facts.

That is what took place this week when he undermined the act of bipartisanship on national television.

During a Fox News interview Ron Johnson once again came out against bipartisan infrastructure efforts that would positively impact communities across Wisconsin. However, Johnson didn’t stop at criticizing the bipartisan infrastructure efforts; he came out swinging against the very idea of working in a bipartisan manner saying, “I always warn people [to] beware of bipartisanship.”

One can calculate a couple scenarios as to why Johnson repeatedly wades into rhetorical swamps. He is either playing to a base of the Republican Party for an election in 2022, or he is finished with elected office and simply intends to say anything that comes to mind.

What can not be disputed, however, is the fact-less terrain on which he wishes to position himself. While we surely desire to have our top elected officials from the state be wedded to history and logic that is not what we are witnessing. As one who always likes to have the nation see the best exhibited by our state, such moments as this one troubles me.

The streets in my Madison neighborhood are named for the signers of the Constitution.  When friends visit we go for a walk and given my interests a few quick stories are offered about the men who made history in 1787. Much of the document they created was based on compromise. For instance, William (Paterson Street) wanted a unicameral legislature, but the great compromise of creating a two-body congressional model allowed for the ultimate success of their larger document.

In so doing they did not think that such bending was a weakness but fully understood the greater good to be gained with mutual concessions. That is how the whole of our history has been conducted. Though Johnson was not elected in 1996 he surely heard of the welfare reform measure where Republicans achieved work requirements and Democrats placed education dollars and child care funding into the final bill.

No one got all they wanted. But that is is precisely what compromise is. It is the art of governing.

Whether we voted for Johnson, or not, it becomes central to his mission, once sworn into office, to work at representing the will of the people. I do not hear or read that the ‘folks back home’ are clamoring for more of the harsh rhetoric or the digging of an ever-deeper chasm between the parties. Rather it is most clear from letters to the editor and conversations on Wisconsin Public Radio that state residents want the rhetorical sniping to end and progress to be made on issues of the day.

Though the news reports several weeks ago all pointed to the fact both parties reached an agreement at making Juneteenth a federal holiday, and some even commented on how pleased people were over that mutual agreement, it also underscores what is wrong with congress.

Such legislative moments should not be so rare they merit headline attention. Compromise and governing should be the norm, not the exception. That mindset should be the way our elected officials act when conducting themselves on the national stage.

And so it goes.