Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson to run for U.S. Senate against Ron Johnson in 2022

Lexi Langendorf, News Writer

Tom Nelson announced his early candidacy as the first entrant and declared candidate for the 2022 U.S. Senate election with a video accusing Sen. Ron Johnson of ignoring the COVID-19 crisis and putting others at risk.

Nelson, a Democrat, said he is running for Senate because he feels that citizens need leaders in Washington who will take COVID-19 seriously.

“It just got to where I decided that I’m not waiting any longer,” Nelson said. “Enough is enough.”

He added that local officials have been leading our country through the pandemic because President Donald Trump and Johnson have failed.

“Wisconsinites have had enough of Ron Johnson’s embarrassing tenure, and I am not going to wait another day,” Nelson said. “We need a senator who will acknowledge that the COVID pandemic is real and has the right priorities.”

Johnson, an opponent of the mask mandate declared by Gov. Tony Evers, said that he never had any symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 2.

“COVID-19 is not a death sentence,” Johnson said in early October.

Nelson said that he is launching his campaign before the 2020 general election as a result of Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell’s last-minute motion to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Nelson called that move the “last straw,” noting Barrett would endanger the Affordable Care Act, access to abortion and the power of labor unions.

During her confirmation hearing, however, Barrett stated that her “personal church affiliation or religious beliefs would not bear in the discharge” of her “duties as a judge.”

Nelson also said that announcing early would help to build on the excitement that is sweeping the ranks of the Democratic Party, fueled by a renewed progressive movement credited to Bernie Sanders.

“I believe it’s going to build momentum for a Biden-Harris victory, a one-two punch,” Nelson said.

Nelson has expressed interest in a Green New Deal approach to renewing the U.S. economy, a national industrial strategy, criminal justice reform and universal healthcare.

Nelson is particularly enthusiastic about strengthening protections for voting rights.

He said that one of the first things he would do in office would be to approach U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan and ask to be the Senate author of the Right-to-Vote Constitutional Amendment, which would guarantee the voting rights of every citizen of voting age regardless of criminal history.

As an advocate for the country’s progressive movement and a Bernie Sanders delegate at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, Nelson is eager to retire Johnson and bring Wisconsin’s progressive values and leadership to Washington.

Johnson, a Republican from Oshkosh, was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2016. He has not said whether he will seek a third term.