Republican Sen. Ron Johnson Holds On to Wisconsin Senate Seat

In upset, incumbent defeats Russ Feingold for a second time

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., arrives in the Capitol for a vote on Thursday, September 15, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a stunning win, Wisconsin's Republican Sen. Ron Johnson will defeat Democratic former Sen. Russ Feingold for a second time, The Associated Press projects.

Johnson led Feingold 52 percent to 45 percent with 70 percent of precincts reporting.

From the onset of the campaign, both parties considered Johnson one of the GOP's most vulnerable members. The freshman senator, who unseated Feingold six years ago, trailed the Democrat in nearly every poll of the race this year, sometimes by more than 10 points in the race's early going.

[Election Results 2016]

But a plethora of Democratic and Republican groups made late, unexpected investments in the race’s final weeks, signaling that it had become surprisingly close.

Coming into Election Day, the race was rated Tilts Democrat by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.

After nearly six years in the Senate, two as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson ran for re-election as an outsider against Feingold.  

A novice who’d never run for office before, Johnson defeated Feingold in 2010 with nearly 52 percent of the vote. His victory marked the first time in nearly a quarter century that a Republican had won a Senate election in Wisconsin.

Johnson got a hand from Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who stumped for the Republican candidate during the last four days of the campaign.


Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter.

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