Ron Johnson has always loved conservative talk shows and columns, but never thought about running for office—until Barack Obama got elected. Urged to speak at a tea party rally, the wealthy but then-anonymous businessman got a taste for politics. Soon he was pitching himself as a Senate candidate to all of Wisconsin’s conservative radio stations. Now, polls show him head of the popular Russ Feingold, even though the state voted for Obama and Kerry. Politico thinks the race is a microcosm for the entire 2010 election.
Politico interviewed Johnson, but says it “was clear the professional handlers have gotten to” him. Johnson refused to give policy specifics, and skirted around gaffes, like his recent proclamation that global warming is partially caused by “sun spots.” He says if he gets into office, it’ll be different. Then, he’ll reveal his true feelings. “I will be a messenger,” he says. That’s what makes candidates like Johnson so interesting, says Politico. “They seem less interested in plunging into specific legislation and more inclined to wage a philosophical messaging war.”