Opinion: I'm an elected official in Wisconsin. We need to get Ron Johnson out of office.


‘Mandela Barnes, who is challenging Johnson this November, is a once-in-a-generation candidate who is ready to actually represent the state of Wisconsin.’

Opinion column by Jim Paine

I’ve had the honor of serving as mayor of Superior, Wisconsin since 2017. Throughout my time as mayor, working every day to better the lives of the people I represent, I've had the support of many federal officials in making sure our community is getting the resources we need.

Unfortunately, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) isn’t one of them. He has consistently chosen to put his own interests ahead of what’s best for my city and our state.

You don’t have to just take my word for it. Earlier this year, Johnson voted against legislation that eventually allocated $187 million dollars in federal funding for projects benefiting communities across Wisconsin. It was Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) who spearheaded the effort to provide resources for local law enforcement and emergency responders, critical infrastructure projects, and community organizations that helped Wisconsinites.

Sen. Johnson, meanwhile, refused to lift a finger. Even as the pandemic hit the state hard and local communities struggled to get by, Johnson voted against efforts to help keep local businesses going and our economies churning. He made it clear that he’ll support legislation if it helps himself or his donors, but not if it helps the regular Wisconsinites he was elected to represent.

Frankly, it’s hard to ignore Johnson’s actions when he routinely votes against the interests of the rest of the state, showing what that would mean for the future of my city should similar problems ever arise.

In 2018, Johnson voted against a bill that was described as a “lifeline” by lobbyists for Wisconsin dairy farmers. It ultimately boosted farmers’ profits and provided critical resources and access to innovative programs.

Our farmers are the backbone of local economies across Wisconsin. When Johnson voted against them, he voted against all of us.

Johnson went out of his way to rig the tax code in a way that benefited himself and his biggest donors, but when Dane County Human Services requested financial support, he told them he didn’t believe in that kind of work from the government. The DCHS eventually got the funds they needed to keep up this critical work, but no thanks to Johnson.

Sen. Johnson has voted against our best interests over and over and over again, and, if reelected, he will continue to vote against legislation that would directly benefit our state. We’ve had 12 years of Johnson working against us, and enough is enough.

While Johnson refused to do his job, Baldwin fought for us — and her work helped so many family farms when the pandemic hit in 2020.

On the other hand, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D), who is challenging Johnson this November, is a once-in-a-generation candidate who is ready to actually represent the state of Wisconsin.

Barnes understands the challenges that Wisconsinites face on a personal level because he grew up in a working class union family, and he will bring those lived experiences to the Senate floor. He’s passionate about making sure that every Wisconsinite — from our smallest, most rural communities to our largest cities — have their voices heard.

I believe he will put partisanship aside to improve the lives of working families and vote in favor of crucial pieces of legislation. He will fight not just to keep jobs in Wisconsin, but to grow our workforce. He knows the value of investing in our state.

Barnes has said, time and time again, that he isn’t campaigning on “left” or “right” politics: His campaign is focused on issues that impact Wisconsinites of all political parties. That’s the kind of partner Baldwin deserves to have representing us in the Senate.

This November, it’s time to rally around the candidate who will always fight for Wisconsin. The candidate who understands the distinct challenges facing our state.

It’s time to vote Mandela Barnes into the Senate.

Jim Paine has served as the mayor of Superior, Wisconsin, since 2017.