Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has defeated Democratic candidate Mandela Barnes in the Wisconsin Senate election, according to a projection from DecisionDeskHQ.
Decision Desk made the projection at 2:23 a.m. EST on Wednesday. Hours later, other outlets projected Johnson as the winner as the Republican was ahead by just over 27,000 votes out of over 2.5 million ballots cast.
Prior to most outlets calling the race, Johnson declared victory saying that it was not mathematically possible for Barnes to make up the difference.
“The corporate media is refusing to call a race that is over,” he tweeted. “Truth has prevailed over lies and the politics of personal destruction.”
Barnes conceded the race Wednesday saying that he was “disappointed,” but that he had “fought the good fight.”
Polls for the race, which was one of the most closely watched midterm races, flipped in the months leading up to the election with Barnes leading in many polls early in the summer, but Johnson jumping into the lead during the fall.
The Wisconsin race was seen as critical for both parties, with it being a must-hold seat for Republicans to have a chance to gain control of the chamber, which is deadlocked at 50-50. Democrats saw the seat as a possibility to build on the technical majority they held with Vice President Kamala Harris casting tie-breaking votes.
During the campaign, Johnson focused on inflation and crime, accusing Barnes of being soft on law and order and pointing to his links to groups that support defunding the police. Republicans in the state also pointed to a photo of Barnes holding an “Abolish ICE” T-shirt, though Barnes’ campaign claimed he did not support ending the immigration enforcement agency.
Johnson told The Daily Wire in July that he expected the race to come down to the wire and said Republicans would focus on stopping the “Biden agenda that is destroying our country” if they should take power.
The Wisconsin Republican has been a favorite target of many on the Left, as he has been a frequent critic of tech censorship, gone after Hunter Biden, and promoted alternative treatments for COVID.
Throughout the campaign, Barnes, Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor, portrayed himself as a progressive who touted endorsements from far-Left figures like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
He made abortion a centerpiece of his campaign, pledging to fight for “reproductive justice” and cited his mother as an example of a woman who needed to have an abortion.
“I’m an only child, but I’m not my mother’s only pregnancy. Before I was born, my mother had a complicated pregnancy, and she had an abortion. She shared her story because she wanted others to know that they aren’t alone and then it was her decision to make,” Barnes said during a debate with Johnson.
Barnes has criticized Johnson, 67, a former plastics company executive, for his wealth and took aim at the Republican over the January 6 Capitol riot.
During the campaign, the lieutenant governor came under scrutiny for his stance toward ICE and the police, his expensive security detail, and appearances on Russian television where he criticized the police.
His path to the Democratic nomination was ensured after his major opponents, including Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski dropped out before the primary. Both Democrats endorsed Barnes following the suspension of their campaigns.