A Good Idea: Tea Party Freshman In Senate Leadership

Posted: Sep 21, 2011 2:45 PM

Sen. Ron Johnson announced this week he is running for a leadership position in the Senate in 2012. He will run for vice chairman of the Republican Conference, which means that, should he win, he would hold the fifth-highest ranking position among all Senate Republicans.

Why this is good news for conservatives and, frankly, all adherents to common sense: I've had at least one friend who's interested in politics but tired of the partisanship hold up Johnson--elected in the tea party wave of 2010--as an ideal candidate (she was thinking presidential) who adhered to conservative principles, had a visible profile, featured a strong private industry background and who managed to avoid being a lightning rod for controversy.

Setting aside any presidential discussion, it's important to have someone in Senate leadership -- but still new to Washington, D.C.-- who will stand for the principles championed by voters in 2010. Johnson will be the first of the 2010 GOP freshmen to run for a leadership position. Right now, if nothing else, one could argue Johnson's voice is being underutilized by Senate leadership. Johnson beat Sen. Russ Feingold in 2010 to win the Wisconsin seat. He's been one of the most articulate voices in the GOP bloc on health care. His business experience is impressive. And, as the Wall Street Journal reports, he's just found ways for the federal government to meet $1.4 trillion in savings over the next decade by doing things like getting rid of duplicate red tape and allowing private sector workers to catch up to public sector workers: "The biggest item takes $248 billion out of salaries for most federal workers, but no one gets fired or suffers a pay cut. The cuts are achieved through attrition and a pay freeze for civilians through 2015. Mr. Johnson reports that federal workers are now making 30% to 40% more in combined wages and benefits than comparable workers in the real economy."