Climate Denier Ron Johnson Topples Russ Feingold

Pete Marovich/

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

And so bows out one of the Senate’s liberal legends, Wisconsin’s Russ Feingold. Since he was elected in 1992, Feingold has carved out a career as an independent-minded Democrat, a politician hardly in lockstep with his party. For instance, Feingold was one of two Democrats to vote against the financial reform bill passed by Congress this summer.

Yet Feingold couldn’t overcome his party’s enthusiasm gap in 2010, nor the anti-incumbent wave sweeping the country, nor the attack ads against him funded by outfits like the US Chamber of Commerce, which spent $750,000 to defeat him. All told, outside groups spent $1.32 million opposing Feingold’s reelection campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics; the shadowy, conservative American Action Network lead the way, pouring $910,000 into the race. Meanwhile, Ron Johnson, the conservative businessman who defeated Feingold, funelled $8.2 million of his own money into his campaign.

A surprise winner at the state GOP’s convention, Johnson ran on a traditional conservative platform: He opposes same sex marriage and the Obama admnistration’s stimulus; supports protections for the Second Amendment and a balanced budget amendment; and wants to lower taxes and repeal the Obama administration’s health care reform legislation, which he described as the “single greatest assault to our freedom in my lifetime.” What landed Johnson in headlines earlier this year was his claim that climate change wasn’t created by humans but instead was the result of “sunspot activity.”


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend