Wisconsin Sen. Johnson urges votes to avoid Minnesota-like recount

Wisconsin voters cast their ballots.
Wisconsin voters cast their ballots in the state's primary at the South Shore Park Pavilion on April 5, 2016, in Milwaukee.
Charles Rex Arbogast | AP File

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson urged Republicans on Friday to vote for him in Wisconsin's tight Senate race to avoid a recount like Minnesota had in 2008 that put Democrat Al Franken in office.

Johnson was campaigning in central and western Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan, while his Democratic challenger, former Sen. Russ Feingold, appeared at a Madison rally with Vice President Joe Biden.

Johnson noted the tightness of the race in his comments to employees at Crystal Finishing Systems in Mosinee. The last two Marquette University Law School polls, including one this week, showed the race as being about even.

"We also know how incredibly close these elections can be. We've seen a presidential election decided by what, 537 votes, a few hanging chads in Florida?" Johnson said. "Next door in Minnesota, Norm Coleman won that Senate seat by a couple hundred votes. Somehow Al Franken is serving his second term. We can't let that happen here in Wisconsin."

Coleman, the Republican incumbent, led Franken by 215 votes in the Election Day count, but the margin was so close that it triggered an automatic recount that included a process to re-examine and rule on hundreds of rejected absentee ballots. The recount wasn't resolved until the following June, when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Franken should be certified the winner by a mere 312 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast.

The Senate race in Wisconsin this year could determine whether Republicans maintain majority control. With that in mind, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's running mate, Tim Kaine, campaigned with Feingold earlier this week, just days before Biden's appearance. GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump was to hold a rally Sunday in West Allis and his running mate Mike Pence was to campaign Saturday in Mukwonago with Johnson and Ryan.

Johnson, who supports Trump and appeared with him in Eau Claire on Tuesday, appeared to try and calm any concerns Republican voters may have with him.

"Take a look at Donald Trump's kids. Fine people," Johnson said at Friday's rally. "Take a look at his vice presidential pick. Take a look at his Supreme Court nominees, OK? It has to give you some comfort."

Ryan, who said he already cast his ballot for Trump despite saying last month he would no longer defend or campaign with him, cast the election as being about rejecting Clinton.

"We do not want another Clinton scandal-clad White House, do we?" he said.

But Ryan dodged a question about whether Clinton, should she be elected president, ought to be impeached over setting up a private email server as secretary of state.

"I've got a better idea," Ryan said. "Let's make sure she's not elected in the first place."

Johnson earlier this week in an interview with the Beloit Daily News said Clinton could face impeachment because setting up the server broke the law. Johnson told reporters Friday that he didn't raise the issue and was just responding to a question.

"It's a very, very bad idea to vote for Secretary Clinton and have her become president when those are the exact issues the press is going to bringing up," he said. "It's a really bad idea."

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