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GOP Sen. Ron Johnson is reelected, defeating Democrat Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last year.
Alex Brandon
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Pool/Getty Images
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last year.

Follow live updates and results from Election Day 2022 here.

Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson will remain in the Senate after beating Democratic opponent Mandela Barnes, the state's lieutenant governor.

Johnson's seat was once considered to be one of the most vulnerable for the GOP this cycle, and he was polling closely with Barnes for months. But Barnes started to slip behind Johnson in recent polling, in part after being hit with a slew of ads labeling Barnes as soft on crime.

Johnson repeatedly brought up crime in his campaign, and targeted Barnes for opposing the cash-bail system, saying Barnes is "the guy who wrote the bill to release criminals without bail."

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Mandela Barnes, speaks to supporters at a rally outside of the Wisconsin State Capital building in July.
Sara Stathas / The Washington Post via Getty Images
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The Washington Post via Getty Images
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Mandela Barnes, speaks to supporters at a rally outside of the Wisconsin State Capital building in July.

Barnes pushed back, telling NPR in October: "[Johnson] only brings up Milwaukee when he talks about crime, but he's never shown up to try to help. He has prioritized the interests and the profits of the gun lobby over the lives of our children and our public safety."

Barnes also tried to show Johnson as extreme and tried to keep abortion in focus, pushing a message of "Ron Against Roe." And as the race tightened, Democrats even sent in former President Barack Obama to stump for Barnes and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers.

While Barnes outraised Johnson in campaign funding, the race was also fueled by millions of dollars from outside groups who piled on in attacks ads against Barnes.

Johnson, a Trump supporter, has also repeatedly downplayed the Jan. 6 insurrection. He said it "didn't seem as - like an armed insurrection to me."

Johnson, 67, had promised in 2016 that he would not seek a third term in the Senate. But he told reporters recently, "Things change."

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Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.