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Ron Johnson (U.S. politician)

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Ron Johnson (U.S. politician)

Ron Johnson
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Serving with Tammy Baldwin
Preceded by Russ Feingold
Personal details
Born Ronald Harold Johnson
(1955-04-08) April 8, 1955
Mankato, Minnesota
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Jane Johnson
Residence Oshkosh, Wisconsin, U.S.
Alma mater University of Minnesota (B.A.)
Occupation Businessman, Politician
Religion Lutheran - WELS[1]
Website .gov.senateronjohnson

Ronald Harold "Ron" Johnson (born April 8, 1955) is the senior United States Senator for Wisconsin and a member of the Republican Party.[2][3] Prior to his election to the Senate, he was chief executive officer of PACUR, LLC, a polyester and plastics manufacturer.[3][4]

Early life and education

Johnson was born in Mankato, Minnesota, the son of Jeanette Elizabeth (née Thisius) and Dale Robert Johnson. His father was of Norwegian descent and his mother was of German ancestry.[5] He attended the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1977 with a degree in business and accounting.[6] That year, he also married Jane, the daughter of the businessman Howard Curler, co-founder of Curwod Industries, now part of the multinational Bemis Company.

Johnson worked as an accountant for Jostens while attending night school for an MBA. He completed his classes, but did not receive his degree because he did not finish his thesis.

Business career

In 1979, Johnson moved to Wisconsin with his wife, and both started working for PACUR, a custom sheet extruder company, with his wife's brother, Patrick Curler, for whom the company is named. PACUR had been created, (a few months before Johnson arrived in Wisconsin), with the strong financial backing of Patrick and Jane's father, Howard Curler. Bemis, who was helmed by Howard Curler at the time, was PACUR's sole customer for the first couple of years of the company's existence.[7] For nearly one year, Johnson worked as the accountant and as a machine operator, trading 12-hour shifts with his brother-in-law, with whom he also shared a small cot. The company later expanded into the area of medical device packaging which involved hiring salespeople and exporting products to other countries. In the mid-80s Pat Curler left PACUR and Johnson became CEO. The Curler family sold PACUR to Bowater Industries in 1987 for 18 million dollars and Bowater kept Johnson on as the company's CEO. In 1997, Johnson purchased PACUR from Bowater and remained as the company's CEO until he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010.[8]

McFadden praised him for working in the business sector before entering politics, saying that "we’ve created this professional class of politician and its killing us."[9]

U.S. Senate

2010 election

Johnson speaking in February 2011.

The 2010 U.S. Senate campaign was Johnson's first run for elective office. He was described as a "political blank slate" because he had no history of campaigning or holding office.[10] Johnson appeared in Madison, Wisconsin, at the Tea Party rally for Tax Day, April 15, 2010.[11] He attracted the attention of the Tea Party movement when he gave two emotional speeches at Tea Party rallies. According to The New York Times, he said he "did kind of spring out of the Tea Party" and is glad to be associated with it.[12] In the September 14, 2010, Republican primary, Johnson, running a largely self-financed campaign,[13] defeated Watertown businessman Dave Westlake, taking 85% of the vote, with 10% going to Westlake and the remaining 5% going to Stephen Finn.[14][15] In the November 2, 2010, general election, he defeated Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold.[16]

As of November 1, 2010, Johnson had contributed more than $8.2 million to his own campaign, representing 64% of total campaign contributions.[17] In June 2011, Johnson's financial disclosures showed Pacur, where he was CEO for 13 years until elected to the Senate, had paid him $10 million in deferred compensation in early 2011. The compensation covered the period from 1997-2011, during which he took no salary from PACUR. Johnson said that he, as CEO, had personally determined the dollar amount and that the amount was unrelated to the almost $9 million he had given to his campaign.[18][19]

Johnson opposed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a candidate. He launched his campaign by telling the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that, "We would have been far better off not spending any of the money and let the recovery happen as it was going to happen." The newspaper later reported that the education council Johnson led considered applying for stimulus money in 2009, but ultimately elected not to do so. The Johnson campaign stated that non-profits consider "many possibilities," but that the council "made no application."[20]

After being elected to the Senate, Johnson "sold every liquid asset so there would be absolutely no chance for conflict of interest." Johnson was not required to sell these holdings.[21]


Regulatory reform

Johnson introduced S. 1438, the Regulation Moratorium and Job Preservation Act. The bill would impose a moratorium on significant new federal regulations until the national unemployment level falls to 7.7 percent – just below where it was when President Obama took office.[22] Johnson cites the EPA ‘Boiler MACT’ rule as one example of a new regulation which would be blocked [23]

Debt ceiling

Johnson stated that the debate over whether to increase the US debt ceiling presented an opportunity to establish hard caps on federal spending.[24] He argued that Congress could not keep raising the debt limit, and needed to prioritize spending. He urged the Obama administration to calm the markets – rather than scare them – as a debt ceiling vote approached.[25] Johnson called for open negotiations over the debt ceiling, saying that the closed-door talks were ‘outrageous’ and ‘disgusting.’ He further noted that default should not have been a concern, given that the government had plenty of funding to pay interest on debt, Social Security benefits, and salary for soldiers.[26]

Benghazi Affair

On January 23, 2013, following the attacks on the American Diplomatic mission in [27]

Committee assignments

Health care

In October 2013, Johnson said he will be introducing legislation that will allow people to keep their current healthcare plans. Many insurance companies have notified their clients that their coverage will terminate at the end of 2013.[28]

In early 2014, Johnson attacked the ability of Congress to continue using pre-tax employer contributions to help pay for their medical care, rather than being subject to the full text of the Affordable Care Act that the rest of the nation must follow.[29] The new "protection" given to the US Congress was due to the Obama Administration offering exemptions to members of Congress and their staff from the full imposition of the ACA.[29] Sen. Johnson showed his discontent with the Obamacare exemptions by offering a lawsuit against the measures taken by the Executive branch.[29] "I really do believe that the American people expect, and they have every right to expect, that members of Congress, the political class here in Washington, should be fully subject to all of the rules, all the laws that Congress imposes on the rest of America...", stated Johnson.[29]

Johnson has declined to support efforts to tie funding the federal government with defunding Obamacare, stating: "Even if we were to not pass the continuing resolution [to fund the federal government], you're not going to be able to defund Obamacare, absent of President Obama signing a law, which I think is highly unlikely".[30]

Political positions

Statute of limitations for sex crimes

In January 2010, Johnson opposed a Wisconsin bill that would have eliminated the [34]

Fiscal issues

Johnson has opposed increased government spending and the federal stimulus. He has supported broad reduction in federal tax rates, simplifying regulations on business and free-market health care options.[35]

When asked if Johnson would get rid of home mortgage interest deductions (claiming mortgage interest as a tax-deductible expense), he said he "wouldn’t rule it out" as part of an effort to lower taxes and simplify the tax code.[36]

Global warming

Johnson has called scientists who attribute global warming to man-made causes "crazy" and has said the theory is "lunacy." He has said the source of the climate change is "sunspot activity or just something in the geologic eons of time."[37] Johnson believes that Cap and Trade legislation “could cost an average Wisconsin family as much as $1,600 per year and would put Wisconsin businesses at a huge competitive disadvantage, damaging our economy for many years.”[38] Johnson is a cosponsor of the Energy Tax Prevention Act, to block the EPA from imposing new rules on carbon emissions.

Health care

Johnson is opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In an op-ed article written for the Wall Street Journal, Johnson spoke of his personal experience with his daughter, who was born with a congenital heart defect and suggested that the life-saving treatment she received was only possible because of the United States' free-market health care system.[39] Johnson says the PPACA “will lead to rationed care, lower the quality of care, increase medical costs and severely limit medical innovation… this law will add trillions of dollars to our nation’s debt and deficit…”[40] He is a cosponsor of legislation to suspend implementation of PPACA while legal challenges to the bill are decided.[41]

Offshore drilling

When asked about allowing offshore drilling for oil in the Great Lakes, Johnson responded, "We have to get the oil where it is, but we need to do it responsibly. We need to utilize American ingenuity and American technology to make sure we do it environmentally sensitively and safely." After facing criticism from the Feingold campaign, Johnson said that his answer did not mean he supports drilling in the Great Lakes.[42] Johnson argues that America’s dependence on imported oil creates “both security and economic threats to the nation”[38] Johnson is a cosponsor of legislation to encourage job growth, reduce energy costs, and increase tax revenue by expanding domestic oil production.[43]

During a debate, Johnson stated that he is "disappointed that the Obama administration is launching an assault on BP" after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.[44]

Social issues

He is "definitely pro-life" and opposes abortion but would allow it in cases of incest, rape, or when the mother's life is in danger.[45][46] He opposes the funding of research that uses embryonic stem cells. Johnson has stated he disagrees with it morally and also has said that eliminating the funding of the research would help balance the federal budget.[47]

Gun Control/Rights

Johnson is a strong supporter of gun rights. He is cosponsor of S.570, a bill that, if passed, would prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloging the purchases of multiple rifles and shotguns.[48] In April 2013 Ron Johnson was one of 12 Republican senators who signed a letter threatening to filibuster any newly introduced gun control legislation.[49] On April 17, 2013, Johnson joined 45 other senators in defeating the Manchin-Toomey Amendment which would have required background checks on all commercial sales of guns.[50]

Electoral history

Wisconsin U.S. Senate Republican Primary 2010[15]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron Johnson 500,925 85%
Republican Dave Westlake 61,303 10%
Republican Stephen Finn 29,005 5%
Wisconsin U.S. Senate Election 2010
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ron Johnson 1,125,999 51.86%
Democratic Russ Feingold (incumbent) 1,020,958 47.02%
Republican gain from Democratic

Personal life

Johnson and his wife, Jane, have three children, all of whom are graduates of the University of Wisconsin.[8] He is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.[51]


  1. ^ Brown, Elizabeth Nolan. "What is Ron Johnson's Religion?". Politics Daily. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ Jeremy Pelofsky and Frances Kerry (November 2, 2010). "Wisconsin's Feingold loses Senate re-election bid, NBC projects". Reuters.  
  3. ^ a b Catanese, David (July 6, 2010). "Johnson balances GOP, tea party". Politico. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Polyester and Lenticular Plastic Specialists". PACUR. Retrieved October 19, 2010. 
  5. ^ genealogy
  6. ^ "Ron Johson Biography". Ron Johnson Senate. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Bollier, Jeff (October 5, 2010). "Johnson’s Pacur LLC began as Curler family enterprise". The Oshkosh Northwestern. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b "Meet Ron Johnson". Ron Johnson for Senate. June 10, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  9. ^ Pappas, Alex (14 September 2014). "Al Franken Opponent: ‘He’s Been Invisible As A Senator’". Daily Caller. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Daniel Bice (June 10, 2010). "Ron Johnson's record includes opposition to victims' bill". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  11. ^ David Schaper (September 28, 2010). "Democrat Feingold Faces Tough Battle In Wisconsin". National Public Radio. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  12. ^ Zernike, Kate (October 14, 2010). "Where Tea Party Candidates Are Running - Interactive Feature". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  13. ^ 2010 House and Senate Campaign Finance for Wisconsin
  14. ^ "Wisconsin Senate - Feingold vs. Johnson - Final Result". Real Clear Politics. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Wisconsin Primary Results". The New York Times. September 14, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Election 2010 Wisconsin Results". The New York Times. November 3, 2011. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  17. ^ 2010 Race: Wisconsin Senate,
  18. ^ Daniel Bice (June 23, 2011). "Johnson proves to be a big spender - and taker: Firm pays him $10 million". Journal Sentinel. 
  19. ^ Sarlin, Benjy; Crabtree, Susan (June 28, 2011). "Ron Johnson Ducks TPM Questions On His $10 Million Payday: ‘It’s A Private Company’". Talking Points Memo. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  20. ^ Don Walker (October 30, 2010). "Johnson's PIE inquired about federal funds". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Sen. Ron Johnson of Oshkosh cleans up stock holdings". Appleton Post Crescent. June 16, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Wants a Regulatory Moratorium Pegged to Unemployment". The Weekly Standard. August 5, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Press Releases: Johnson Introduces Regulation Moratorium and Job Preservation Act". July 28, 2011. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  24. ^ Korbe, Tina (April 13, 2011). "Sen. Ron Johnson: Debt Ceiling Debate Should Net Spending Cap". Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  25. ^ Johnson, Ron (June 20, 2011). "Congress can't keep raising the debt limit". Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  26. ^ McCormack, John (July 7, 2011). """Sen. Ron Johnson: Closed Door Debt Ceiling Negotiations "Outrageous," "Disgusting. The Weekly Standard. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  27. ^ Johnson, Ron (January 23, 2012). "Hillary Clinton defends handling of Benghazi attack". BBC News. 
  28. ^ Strong, Johnathan (Octiber 28, 2013). "The Corner: The one and only. Ron Johnson’s Bill to Protect Existing Plans".  
  29. ^ a b c d
  30. ^ Blake, Aaron (14 August 2013). "Sen. Ron Johnson opposes Obamacare defunding effort". Washington Post. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  31. ^ a b c d Patty Murray (September 30, 2010). "Senate candidate Johnson defends position on child sex crimes". Wisconsin Public Radio (Fox21). Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  32. ^ "Ron Johnson Testifies Against child Abuse Victims, Opposed Child Victims Act in wisconsin". YouTube. September 24, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  33. ^ Bice, Daniel (June 6, 2010). "Ron Johnson's record includes opposition to victims' bill". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  34. ^ Stiles, Andrew (September 29, 2010). "Wisc Sen Race Takes An Ugly Turn". National Review Online. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  35. ^ "Real Reforms for Health Care". Ron Johnson for Senate website. June 10, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  36. ^ Bob Schaper (August 20, 2010). "Johnson willing to 'horse trade' mortgage interest deduction". Madison, WI:  
  37. ^ Steve Schultze (August 16, 2010). "Sunspots are behind climate change, Johnson says". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  38. ^ a b "EnergySolutions". 2010-06-10. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  39. ^ Johnson, Ron (March 23, 2011). "ObamaCare and Carey's Heart". The Wall Street Journal. 
  40. ^ "Press Releases - Newsroom - Ron Johnson, United States Senator for Wisconsin". Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  41. ^ "Press Releases - Newsroom - Ron Johnson, United States Senator for Wisconsin". Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  42. ^ Dave Umhoefer (July 15, 2010). "Feingold, Johnson spar over oil drilling".  
  43. ^ "S.706: 3-D, Domestic Jobs, Domestic Energy, and Deficit Reduction Act of 2011 - U.S. Congress". OpenCongress. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  44. ^ "The troubles with GOP’s Ron Johnson". Madison, WI: The Capitol Times. June 30, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  45. ^ "Ron Johnson - The Jerry Bader Show - WTAQ News Talk 97.5FM and 1360AM". June 7, 2010. Retrieved November 1, 2011. 
  46. ^ "Wisconsin Right to Life toes GOP line". Madison, WI: The Capitol Times. July 5, 2010. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  47. ^ "Johnson opposes funding for embryonic stem cells". Manitowoc, WI: The Herald Times Reporter. October 2, 2010. 
  48. ^ "S.570: A bill to prohibit the Department of Justice from tracking and cataloguing the purchases of multiple... OpenCongress". OpenCongress. Retrieved January 15, 2013. 
  49. ^ "12 GOP senators back Rand Paul on gun-control filibuster". Politico. Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  50. ^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress – 1st Session". Legislation & Records.  
  51. ^

Further reading

External links

  • Senator Ron Johnson official U.S. Senate website
  • Ron Johnson for Senate
  • Curwood business website
  • Bemis business website
  • Ron Johnson at DMOZ
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tim Michels
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
(Class 3)

Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Russ Feingold
United States Senator (Class 3) from Wisconsin
Served alongside: Herb Kohl, Tammy Baldwin
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Marco Rubio
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Rand Paul
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