Ron just wrapped up his kickoff tour across the state — he made 23 stops in 17 counties over 5 days. His travels took him to places as far south as Beloit to as far north as Superior and as far west as La Crosse to as far east as Milwaukee — as well as many stops in between. Check out some of the coverage his kickoff received statewide as he discussed issues that matter to Wisconsin communities.
“With his wife Jane standing by his side, Johnson spoke of his roots, recalling the ‘deep faith’ and value of ‘hard work’ instilled in him by his late parents, Dale and Jean Johnson. He recalled childhood jobs of shoveling snow, caddying and working for minimum wage at a drug store. And he talked of building Pacur. Johnson sought to portray himself as a citizen-legislator ‘who helped to build a business,’ up against Feingold, ‘who most recently was a California professor, a career politician.’”
Unlike his opponent, Johnson said he understands that economic development is a solution for many of the nation’s problems.
And that’s why one of Johnson’s stops during his announcement tour was at Peterson Wood Treatment. Johnson said he hoped to learn more about the government regulations that are getting in the way of business growth and development. Johnson toured the family-owned business to learn more about it.
“We’re coming up here to listen to the concerns of the people throughout Wisconsin,” Johnson said. “When it comes to manufacturing, it’s really about listening to the regulatory overburden.”
Before speaking with the media, Johnson met privately with the Berg family to discuss the issues and concerns they have for their farm before taking a short tour. One of the issues raised involved the trout stream that cuts through Lane Creek Dairy and required several months of state permitting work when the dairy recently expanded.
If the federal government has its way, Johnson said, it will create new rules to force farmers to get federal permits, which take even longer to get and are far more costly. This would greatly expand the scope of government control over the land, he added, and make things more difficult for farmers and other property owners.
“It is this kind of regulatory burden that keeps our economy from moving forward,” he said. “I want to keep Wisconsin businesses growing and moving forward.”
Johanna Berg said she appreciated Johnson’s visit and the concerns he brought up that many farmers share. Not only are government regulations a burden for farmers, especially family operations, but Johnson also spoke about tackling unstable milk prices, currently at a low point, hurting the farm’s bottom line.
As restaurant patrons leisurely dined Thursday, the energetic Johnson said he wanted to discuss the deficit. The federal debt, he said, is already at $19 trillion — more than $59,200 for every person in America.
“Our greatest threat is the denial of reality,” he said. “The political class refuses to acknowledge and talk about serious issues such as the deficit.”
After Obama was re-elected, Johnson said he was part of a small group of Republican senators trying to find common ground on reducing the deficit. Johnson said he gave Obama his 30-year deficit chart and encouraged him to deal with it. Johnson said he told 17,000 Wisconsinites about the numbers, and encouraged Obama to enlighten the American public about it.
“You know what he said to me?” Johnson said. “‘Ron, we can’t show the American public numbers that big. If we do, they’ll get scared and give up hope.’ He said, ‘besides Ron, we can’t do all the work, we have leave some for the future presidency and congresses.’”
Speaking to more than 100 supporters alongside House Speaker Paul Ryan, Johnson sought to draw a contrast with former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, his opponent whom Johnson defeated in 2010.
Johnson, a Republican, called Democrat Feingold a “career politician” who “only knows how to grow government.” He also criticized him for votes supporting the Affordable Care Act and against an amendment requiring a balanced budget.
“Economic growth is the No. 1 component of a solution. I know how to grow an economy. Senator Feingold doesn’t have a clue,” Johnson said.
“You want somebody who believes what you believe, who acts on those beliefs, but who’s an effective conservative,” Ryan said.
“To actually be a conservative and then to do the hard work of negotiating, of cajoling, of getting people to agree to your point of view and to get it done and to pass it and see it happen, that takes a special kind of person … the kind of person we have right here,” Ryan said.