Wisconsin Senate Race Getting Nasty

Johnson calls Feingold a phony, Feingold says Johnson's getting desperate

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said he didn’t respect his Democratic opponent, former Sen. Russ Feingold, because “I don’t respect phoniness.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The race between Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Democratic former Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin is becoming increasingly personal as the race comes to a close.

In a radio interview Tuesday, Johnson, who unseated Feingold in 2010, repeated his view that he did not respect Feingold.

“He says one thing, does something completely different,” Johnson said. “I would call that phony. And so when I was asked if I respect Sen. Feingold, no, I don’t. I don’t respect phoniness.”

Johnson was repeating the same charge he made last Friday in a meeting with reporters and editors at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

[Roll Call's 2016 Election Guide: Senate]

Feingold responded to the incumbent's original Friday statement by saying,“I respect Sen. Johnson.”

“I’ve not heard a lot of that kind of thing in the races I’ve been in in the past,” Feingold said. “But I realize when somebody’s desperate, when a politician feels like he’s probably going to lose, he gets a little shaky on that and starts maybe doing some things he shouldn’t do.”

In a memo to supporters, Feingold campaign manager Tom Russell compared Johnson’s rhetoric to that of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“Any semblance of ‘Wisconsin nice’ is gone,” Russell wrote. “In its place is a hysterical scorched-earth strategy of nasty personal attacks.”

A RealClearPolitics average of recent polls of the race gives Feingold a more than 5-point advantage in a two-way contest. 

The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race Leans Democratic.

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