NPR logo Wisconsin Picks Political Newbie Johnson; Feingold's Toast

Election 2010

Wisconsin Picks Political Newbie Johnson; Feingold's Toast

And then there were four, as in the number of Senate seats Republicans have wrested from Democrats so far.

Republican businessman and political newcomer Ron Johnson defeated long-term incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold in the Wisconsin dust in a race that for months looked like it would be Feingold's finale.

Johnson had a solid lead in the polls coming into Election Day, nearly double digits. So Tuesday night's results fell in line with expectations.

Still, Feingold was a fixture in the Senate and earlier this year was thought to be safe.

His defeat gives the Republicans one of their biggest political trophies of the evening since not only was he a liberal Democrat albeit with a renegade streak; he was also one-half of the hated (by Republicans) McCain-Feingold campaign finance law which many conservatives for years viewed as an abridgment of free speech rights and an anchor on Republican candidates.