Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has cruised in his GOP Senate primary Tuesday, easily defeating David Schroeder, according to Decision Desk HQ's quick projection.
DDHQ called the race at 9:16 p.m. ET, just minutes after polls closed.
Johnson, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, will face Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the Democrat Senate primary winner, according to DDHQ, in November's general election. At 35, Barnes is nearly half the age of Johnson, and would join a tiny group of Black senators — and be the first from Wisconsin — if he wins election to the chamber.
Ousting Johnson has never been a bigger priority for Democrats with majority control of the Senate on the line. He is the only incumbent Senate Republican seeking reelection this year in a state that President Joe Biden carried. But Johnson has proven tough to beat as he has grown from a tea party outsider into one of Donald Trump's most vocal supporters and Wisconsin's senior senator.
This election is Johnson's first against someone other than Russ Feingold, whom he defeated in 2010 and then in a 2016 rematch, losses that still sting liberals in the swing state. Johnson is running for a third term after previously saying he wouldn't.
"Democrats will walk through fire and across broken glass to beat Ron Johnson," Democrat strategist Joe Zepecki said.
Johnson raised about $7 million in donations between April and June, more than the entire Democrat field.
In a state that Trump won in 2016 and lost in 2020 by a nearly equal number of votes, the election will once again likely come down to who can win over independents, a small but key group.
"The power brokers of the Democrat party have now cleared the field for their most radical left candidate," Johnson tweeted before the primary. "Socialist policies have produced this mess, and a radical left Senator from Wisconsin is not the solution."
With his focus increasingly on the fall, Barnes is emphasizing an everyman image in campaign ads, including one in a grocery store in which he says most senators do not know what a gallon of milk costs.
"But I'm not like most senators," Barnes says, walking down the store aisle. "Or any of the other millionaires running for Senate. My mom was a teacher and my dad worked third shift."
Johnson was first elected as a fiscal conservative, known for attacking spending and intent on lowering the national debt. In recent years, as the coronavirus rose and Trump fell, he became a lightning rod for anti-science positions and calls for election integrity.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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