• WisPolitics

Friday, September 30, 2011

 8:20 AM 

Johnson says he sees no conflict in leadership bid, PAC formation

Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson defeated longtime incumbent Russ Feingold on a platform of being a citizen legislator who would bring a businessman's rather than a politician's thinking to Washington.

Speaking as a guest of the Marquette University's Law School's “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” series on Thursday, Johnson said he saw no conflict in embracing traditional political roles in Washington.

Johnson has announced he will run for vice chair of the Republican Conference, a leadership position in the Senate GOP caucus. He said he decided to run for the position because it’s about communication.

Johnson has also created a leadership PAC called Strategy PAC.

"The idea behind those leadership PACs is to help fellow Republican senatorial candidates be able to win back the Senate. It's one of those Washington, D.C., customs and anything I can do to help that process, I'm willing to do it," he told WisPolitics afterward.

Asked by WisPolitics if he deplored partisanship as much as he said he did during his campaign last fall, Johnson said, "It's sad. I don't see it on the other side. When you have a president that needs to lead, and he's not leading ... so again, in order to work on a bipartisan basis, you need somebody that's negotiating in good faith, that's working in good faith, and currently we don't have that with this president."

Johnson also told the audience that "it's really pretty remarkable how President Obama has pretty well taken over and continued the policies of the Bush administration."

That doesn't mean the freshman Republican senator agrees with Obama on anything.

"We're not getting leadership out of President Obama," he said.

Johnson did not offer any endorsement of a possible GOP candidate to take on Obama, but said, "I will be begging Republicans running for president to run an issues campaign. Run on a mandate. Explain to the American people the extent of the problems, lay out for the American people your solutions to the problem so that when hopefully you get elected, the American people understand what you're going to do and then will support you to get it done."

But Johnson repeated his opinion that Obama's signature mandate -- a national health care plan -- should in fact, be repealed, along with other Obama initiatives. And he said Obama doesn't have a clue how to create jobs.

Johnson also expressed frustration with political inefficiency and bickering on Capitol Hill, calling the appropriations process, for example, unprofessional, and said it's far worse than he had imagined.

Johnson complained of not getting information until the day before the vote on a spending bill. Johnson, an accountant by profession, said he then had to ask his staff to "break numbers out of legislative language into a spreadsheet for me."

"I see now, how unprofessional, how out of control the spending process is," Johnson said.

Johnson said he would continue to block the nomination of Wisconsin Law School professor Victoria Nourse to the 7th District U.S. Court of Appeals.

Johnson said Obama had nominated Nourse before last fall's election when Democrats had a larger majority in the Senate, and said "they could have confirmed her when they had the chance."

"Elections have consequences," Johnson said.

"The day I was sworn in, President Obama re-nominated Nourse ... and he went ahead without consulting me at all," Johnson said. "The voters of Wisconsin who elected me should have equal say in who is nominated."

Johnson insisted her "nomination had expired" with the fall election and questioned her ties to Wisconsin and its legal community. He also said here politics were “certainly part of it. I've got all kinds of reasons."

- By Kay Nolan
For WisPolitics.com

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