Flash flood watch for most of SE Wisconsin from Friday evening through 7 a.m. Saturday

Ron Johnson ‘praying’ over GOP primary race, Russ Feingold blasts Trump

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MADISON -- Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is leaving the door open to a future break from Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, after Trump initially refused to denounce the Ku Klux Klan over the weekend.

Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson

Johnson has previously said that he would support whoever the GOP nominates, but said on Monday, February 29 that "we'll see how the process plays out."

"I go to bed every night praying that our nominee is a person of integrity, intelligence, ideas and courage," Johnson said first on Charlie Sykes' radio show on WTMJ/620AM and later in a statement emailed to FOX6 News.

Johnson is running for reelection against Democrat Russ Feingold. Feingold criticized Trump for the racial controversy and said Republicans were mired in "a catfight" for the presidential nomination.

Appearing Sunday morning on CNN, Trump on multiple occasions declined to condemn the KKK after the group's former leader, David Duke, announced that he was supporting Trump.

The GOP frontrunner later disavowed Duke's support and blamed the mistake on a faulty earpiece during the interview.

Russ Feingold

Russ Feingold

"Anybody who gets David Duke's endorsement should immediately repudiate it. Obviously, Donald Trump should've done that," Feingold said. "It's just a shameful moment when people don't repudiate somebody like that."

Both Johnson and Feingold condemned white supremacy in their comments on Monday. Johnson stopped short of criticizing Trump.

Speaking to reporters in Madison on Monday, Feingold said he expected a "tough fight" in the U.S. Senate rematch against Johnson despite the latest Marquette University Law School Poll showing him ahead, 49-37 percent.

"This race will be much closer than the polls show. I do not take those numbers seriously," Feingold said. "I am not going to kid myself for one minute that this is not a tough fight."

The poll, conducted February 18th through February 21st, 2016, showed voters' opinions have shifted little in the race over the past four months. In November, Feingold held a 49-38 percent lead.

Race for US Senate: MU Law School Poll February 25th

Race for US Senate: MU Law School Poll February 25th

"If you sit around and worry about polls and pretend that it's going to be this way or that, you lose your focus. My focus is on middle-income and working families," Feingold said.

Johnson has said the early polls are "meaningless."

A central issue in this race is the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia raised eyebrows on Wednesday with a comment he made during the court's hearing of an affirmative action case, in which he seemed to suggest some African-Americans belong in lesser colleges.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Johnson says the next president should be the one to nominate someone for the bench after voters decide the direction of the country this fall.

"Why not also let them decide the direction of the Supreme Court?" Johnson said this weekend in La Crosse, during a campaign stop with Gov. Scott Walker.

Feingold has called on Johnson and Senate Republicans to confirm whomever President Barack Obama nominates. Yet, as a senator in 2006, he supported a filibuster of President George W. Bush's nomination of current Justice Samuel Alito.

"That's not hypocritical at all," Feingold said, when asked to explain the contrast. "What the Republicans are saying, what Sen.Johnson is saying, is that this president shouldn't be able to fill this seat. President Bush had two nominations when I was in the Senate. I never questioned the fact that President Bush should be able to fill those seats," Feingold said.

Feingold did vote for another Bush nominee -- John Roberts, who is now the Supreme Court's chief justice.

Feingold said that he would not endorse either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, referring to them both as "good candidates." He said he planned to campaign for whoever wins the Democratic nomination.

In the Marquette poll released Feb. 25, Sanders led Clinton by the slimmest of margins, 44-43 percent.

On the Republican side, Trump held a 10-point lead over his closest rival.

"When you appeal to one-issue voters instead of trying to bring people together, it might win you an election or two, but ultimately you end up with kind of a mess," Feingold said of the GOP race.

While Johnson stopped short of criticizing Trump, he did say it was "depressing" to see how the 2016 election was developing because of "demagoguery in politics."

10 comments

  • Hell in a handbasket

    There goes Theo Keith again and his liberal bias in regards to “Praying” Ron Johnson. I’m “Praying” Theo Keith goes to MSNBC where he belongs.

  • Jay Clemons

    The breathtaking hypocrisy of the Republicans in the Senate as regards the constitutional power of the President to appoint Supreme Court Justices reveals a disgusting dishonesty and faithlessness to their claimed ideals. You go, Russ Feingold; win that seat back from that tea bagger!

    • Opinion8d

      The hypocrisy of the Republicans? I’ll agree it political, but the Dems did the same thing – AND SO DID RUSS. His political speak is to say that he didn’t say that the President shouldn’t be able to fill the seat…..but he would filibuster any nominee -which in essence is the same thing. I haven’t heard one Republican say that the Presidential duties shouldn’t or can’t be carried out -unlike the President who believes he can act as the Executive Branch and the legislative branch. And your partisan take on it reveals you’re true bias.

      • Jay Clemons

        ” [Ron] Johnson says the next president should be the one to nominate someone for the bench after voters decide the direction of the country this fall.” – from the very article you are commenting on. Read much?!

        “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” McConnell said, AN HOUR AFTER SCALIA DIED!
        McConnell is the REPUBLICAN SENATE MAJORITY LEADER!

        “Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.” – Ted Cruz

        Etc. Etc. Etc. Now you have heard at least THREE Republicans say that (Obama’s) “Presidential duties shouldn’t or can’t be carried out.” Please join the ranks of the rational…

  • mr. parker

    Feingold was a hypocrite on judicial appointments when he was in the senate. He wouldn’t support Miguel Estrada for the DC Court of Appeals because he had no judicial experience yet he voted for Kagen for Supreme Court despite the fact she had no judicial experience. Of course, W nominated Estrada and Zero nominated Kagen.

  • anon - wake the FUk up

    The whole two-party political system is a criminal conspiracy hiding behind illusion induced delusion.
    One of the core reasons the two-party stranglehold on our political system persists is that whenever one party uses its power to an extreme degree it sets the conditions for the other party—its partner in the conspiracy—to take over. Then the other takes its turn in wielding excessive power. Most Americans—at least those that vote—seem incapable of understanding that the Democrats and Republicans are two teams in the same league, serving the same cabal running the corporatist plutocracy. By keeping people focused on rooting for one team or the other, the behind-the-scenes rulers ensure their invisibility and power.

    • anon - wake the FUk up

      The genius of the plutocrats is to create the illusion of important differences between the two parties, and the illusion of political choice in elections. In truth, the partner parties compete superficially and dishonestly to entertain the electorate, to maintain the aura of a democracy. Illusion creates the delusion of Americans that voting in elections will deliver political reforms, despite a long history of politicians lying in campaigns about reforms, new directions and bold new policies. The rulers need power shifting between the teams to maintain popular trust in the political system. Voting manifests that trust—as if changing people will fix the system. It doesn’t.

  • Jim Smith

    Has anyone els notice that it is always what the GOP or DNC or politicians want. It is never what the PEOPLE want. The GOP doesn’t want Trump as the nominee, the DNC wants Hillary as the nominee.
    It seems to me that the people want Trump why is the GOP trying so hard to derail him?
    More importantly why are WE, THE PEOPLE, allowing them to do so?
    I’m not a Trump supporter and in truth have not decided who I will support.

  • Ron Noname (@SEESTHROUGHIT)

    The spelling of what johnson LIES about doing at night is incorrect.
    It is spelled as “pray” in the article.
    Since this one is a carpetbagging ANTI-America rethug, the correct spelling is “prey”.
    Also, “praying” is as real as any gop promise.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.