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Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson says he'll run for reelection in 2022

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson will run for reelection, he announced Sunday, bringing to an end months of speculation regarding his political future. Two sources familiar with his decision told CBS News on Friday that he was expected to kick off his campaign this week.

For months, the incumbent Republican declined to say whether he would seek a third term in the U.S. Senate. He is one of former President Donald Trump's staunchest allies in the chamber. 

Johnson made his decision to seek reelection official with a Wall Street Journal op-ed, declaring he will "continue to fight for freedom in the public realm."

"It is a decision I haven't made lightly," he said. "Having already experienced a growing level of vitriol and false attacks, I certainly don't expect better treatment in the future. For my campaign to succeed, I will need the support of every American who values the truth and refuses to allow lies and distortions to prevail."

Johnson was first elected to the office in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave that swept across the country during the midterm elections. He once pledged to only serve two terms in the U.S. Senate but told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month that he was facing pressure to run again in 2022. 

"I never anticipated the importance of continuing to uncover the corruption," Johnson said. "But also just this moment, right here, this is crucial that Republicans retain this Senate seat and I think just about everybody I talk to says I probably have the best chance of doing that. And that puts a fair amount of pressure on me to do that. No, I mean, look, when I made that pledge, when my wife (Jane) and I made that pledge, that was our very strong preference."

Senator Ron Johnson during Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on August 6, 2020. TONI L. SANDYS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Wisconsin will be one of the most competitive and expensive U.S. Senate races later this year. Several high-profile Democrats are vying for the chance to take on Johnson, including Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Alex Lasry, who is on leave from his role as an executive with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Johnson has faced criticism from his opponents this year over controversial comments he has made about COVID-19 vaccines, the January 6 attack at the Capitol, climate change and Dr. Anthony Fauci.  

"Johnson's relentless attacks on working families, health care, and the bedrock principles of American democracy disqualify him from a third term, and his presence on the ballot will ensure that voters turn out in record numbers to defeat Republicans at every level," Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler said in a statement. 

Johnson defeated former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold in both the 2010 and 2016 elections. Wisconsin will also have a closely watched governor's race during this year's midterm elections. 

Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

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