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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

 5:01 PM 

Johnson won't share his pick in GOP Senate primary

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said he knows who he'll vote for in the Senate GOP primary a week from today.

But he isn't identifying his choice and won't endorse ahead of time, because he doesn't want his backing for the eventual nominee "marginalized."

"Come August 15, I will want to be 100 percent supportive of whoever emerges," the Oshkosh Republican told a WisPolitics.com luncheon at the Madison Club today. "I've got faith in the voters of the Republican primary to select a good candidate."

Johnson said the increasingly nasty tone of the primary isn't helping the party's chances, but he said he's still confident in a GOP win if the nominee focuses on the issues facing the country in what's going to be "a watershed election."

"As a Republican, it's what we all feared, is that the Republican candidates beat up themselves pretty bad and then whoever emerges will be slightly damaged," Johnson said. "But I've got a pretty good sense that whoever emerges from that primary will be a strong candidate, will provide a very strong contrast to certainly what Tammy Baldwin will present the voters of Wisconsin."

Johnson also said he hasn't given much thought to running for re-election.

But he said he'd consider walking away if lawmakers passed long-term solutions for health care and government spending -- the latter of which he said would likely require a constitutional amendment.

"If I get those two things in place, I'd be happy to go home after one term," said Johnson, elected to a six-year term in 2010.

Johnson said for too many people serving in Congress, America falls a distant third behind their priorities of getting re-elected and "bringing home the bacon."

"The very lowest priority for me is re-election," Johnson said. "I do not think about it in terms of my actions.

"But, again, I haven't ruled it out," he added. "If it takes another six years, would I be ready for another deployment? You know, possibly."


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