MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson claimed victory Wednesday in battleground Wisconsin as he held a narrow lead over Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes in a pivotal race for determining majority control of the Senate.
The Associated Press has yet to call the race, with unofficial results showing Johnson holding a narrow 1-point lead over Barnes, a margin that would be just outside the margin for a recount to be sought.
“The votes are in,” Johnson said in an email statement. “There is no path mathematically for Lt. Gov. Barnes to overcome his 27,374 vote deficit. This race is over.”
Barnes did not concede defeat early Wednesday. His campaign had no immediate reaction to Johnson declaring victory.
“No matter what anyone says, we are committed to making sure every vote is counted,” Barnes’ campaign spokesperson Maddy McDaniel said earlier Wednesday morning. “We will wait and see what the Wisconsin voters have decided after all their voices are heard.”
The race was one of a handful of tight Senate contests across the country that could determine which party holds majority control.
Barnes, the current lieutenant governor, was seeking to become the first Black senator from Wisconsin. Johnson was running for a third term.
Johnson has been a top target for Democrats in the swing state of Wisconsin. He was first elected in 2010, as part of the tea party wave, and won reelection in 2016.
Johnson is one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest backers. He ran this campaign trying to paint Barnes as being weak on crime with a thin resume who will be a rubber stamp for the national Democratic agenda.
Barnes, like many Democrats nationally, tried to make the race about abortion, highlighting Johnson’s long support for overturning Roe v. Wade, and arguing that the millionaire Johnson was out of touch with the concerns of the middle class.