GOP Congressmember Bill Johnson—A Political Trump “Dog” Who Wags Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy April 27, 2022
The modern GOP has never been a “profile in courage.” Exhibit A—the way that group cowardly behaved when Demagogue Donald was in charge. While many “Team Red” members during Trump’s four years would whisper to the media that they knew Donald was inept, acted strangely, and was not qualified for the Oval Office, they made sure that none of these comments were ever heard publicly. Why? Donald’s cult-like base would run them out of town. Members of the media and much of the general public wondered just what it would take for GOPers to break with wacko/authoritarian Donald. Would this rupture occur after he failed with a GOP House and Senate to repeal Obamacare, thanks to dying John McCain? Nope. Would it occur after he passed his regressive budget-breaking top 1% tax cut, a GOP obsession? No way. Would it happen after he was able to get a 6-3 Supreme Ct. conservative majority and put many lower far right federal judges in place? No, again. Would it occur in 2018 when Democrats took back the House? Not at all. Would GOP House and Senate members finally turn on Donald when he incited the deadly 1/06/2021 riot to keep Democratic presidential winner Joe Biden from taking office? Not even then did the gutless GOP decide to turn on anti-democracy Donald. For the GOP, it’s always power over democracy.
The modern, GOP is “not your father’s GOP,” as President Biden aptly noted. Remember GOP Pres. Teddy Roosevelt’s famous comment—“Speak softly but carry a big stick?” Well, the Trump-captured GOP has turned TR’s comment upside down. The current Trumpist GOP’s maxim? “Speak toughly behind closed doors about Demagogue Donald, but carry a pathetic twig.” GOP lawmakers must defend Trump before his wild mob of “Team Red” followers 48/7. Otherwise, Demagogue Donald will turn on these GOP federal legislators with no mercy. Trump will get his “pitchfork carrying cultist mob” to vote any dissenters out of office, even physically attack them.
As most of us know, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has become involved in a spat with Trump and his fellow GOPers. McCarthy is campaigning hard to become the GOP’s next Speaker should that party retake the House in 11/2022. After the fatal 1/06/2021 Capitol attempted coup, McCarthy and GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told associates they believed Trump was responsible for inciting this riot and vowed to drive him from office (Burns, A., & Martin, J., nytimes.com, 4/21/22). In an audio recording of this conversation obtained by the NY Times, McCarthy went so far as to say he would push Trump to resign immediately. McCarthy declared to a group of Republican leaders: “I’ve had it with this guy (nytimes.com, Burns & Martin, 4/21/22).” In a 1/08/2021 phone call with several top House GOP leaders, McCarthy stated that Trump’s Jan. 6 conduct had been “atrocious and totally wrong.” McCarthy faulted Trump for “inciting people” to attack the Capitol. McCarthy stated that Donald’s remarks at the Jan. 6 rally at the National Mall were “not right by any shape or any form (Burns & Martin, nytimes.com, 4/21/22).” In that same conversation, McCarthy asked about the mechanism for using the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, the way the VP and Cabinet members can remove the President from office. He later concluded that this amendment was not a viable option. McCarthy’s resolve to get Trump out of office hardened over the following days. On 1/10/2021, McCarthy spoke with his leadership team again. When Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), then on that team, asked about the chances of Trump resigning, McCarthy expressed doubt Trump would resign, but said he had a plan. McCarthy told Cheney that the Democrats were driving hard for an impeachment resolution and would have the votes to pass it. McCarthy stated he planned to call Trump and tell him “it was time for him to go (nytimes.com, Burns & Martin, 4/22/22).” McCarthy said he would tell Trump, “I think this (the Democrats’ impeachment resolution) will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign (Burns & Martin).” Again, McCarthy stated it was unlikely Donald would resign. McCarthy added, “What he (Trump) did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that and nobody should defend that,” McCarthy told the GOP leadership team.” The NY Times reviewed the full one-hour recording of this conversation. In this 1/10/2021 conversation in which he called on Trump to resign, McCarthy told other GOP leaders that he wished the big tech companies would strip some GOP lawmakers, like Cong. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) of their Twitter and Facebook accounts, like they had Trump (nytimes.com, Burns & Martin, 4/22/22).
On the Senate side, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a fellow claimed by many analysts and pundits to know how Senate Republicans would normally vote, asked a Capitol reporter for information about whether the Cabinet might pursue the 25th Amendment. When the Cabinet did not do that, McConnell met on 1/11/2021 with two of his advisors. McConnell predicted Trump was politically finished. He stated, “The Democrats are going to take care of this SOB for us” by impeachment. McConnell told his advisors that Trump’s behavior had been “utterly beyond the pale.” He added, “If this isn’t impeachable, I don’t know what is (Burns & Martin, 4/22/22).” It looked at that point like McConnell and a few other GOP Senators were leaning to convict Trump in an impeachment trial (See nytimes.com, Burns & Martin, 4/22/22).
However, after McConnell “took the temperature” of his fellow GOP Senators, he surprisingly found that Demagogue Donald remained the most popular GOPer in the country. McConnell backed off along with most Senate GOPers of convicting Trump (nytimes.com, Burns et al, 4/22/22). McConnell even stated he would support Trump in 2024 if he became the GOP presidential nominee (nytimes.com, 4/22/22). In McConnell’s words, “I didn’t get to be leader by voting with five people in the conference (Cillizza, cnn.com, 4/21/22).” Once again, it’s party over country and winning at all costs for McConnell and his GOP.
In the House, McCarthy, after a few days, lost his appetite for telling Trump to resign. He never personally approached Trump to tell him to resign (huffpost.com, Boboltz, 4/23/22). A group of GOPers, including Cong. Bill Johnson (R-OH), warned McCarthy that conservative voters back home would “go ballistic” if GOP leaders criticized Trump. Johnson and his cronies argued that GOP voters wanted Hillary Clinton and Hunter Biden to be attacked, not Donald. In Johnson’s words, “I’m just telling you that that’s the kind of thing we’re dealing with our base (nytimes.com, Burns, et al, 4/22/22).” When only 10 House GOPers joined the Democrats to impeach Trump, McCarthy abandoned any resignation of Trump talk (see nytimes.com). McCarthy quickly fell on his knees pledging fealty to “Emperor Donald,” and visited him at Mar-a-Lago. Despite the recordings of what he had said about Trump right after 1/06/2021, McCarthy denied ever making such anti-Trump comments and made sure to get back 10,000% into his “Dear Leader’s” good graces (nytimes.com, Burns, et al, cnn.com, cnn.com, Zanona, Raju, & Fox, 4/22/22, latimes.com, Mehta, 4/24/22, huffpost.com, Boboltz, 4/23/22). IMHO, it appears that Congressmember Bill Johnson is a key political Trump “dog” who wags Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell. Here’s Cong. Johnson.
Sixth-term GOP Congressmember Bill Johnson (67) currently represents Ohio’s 6th Congressional District (CD). The OH 6th CD consists of a string of counties running 325 miles along the Ohio River and includes part of the Mahoning Valley. The city of Canfield and a few small suburbs of Youngstown in Mahoning County lie in the Buckeye 6th. The 6th curves along the lightly populated stretch of the river south from Marietta, past old industrial Ironton, and extends into Wheelersburg. The 6th’s major town is Steubenville, on the Ohio River. Eastern KY and West Virginia lie across the Ohio River. Steubenville was a center for coal and steel mills but this industry gave that city the nation’s dirtiest air. When the steel industry fell on hard times, this area, part of very impoverished Appalachia, sent many of its residents to find jobs in Detroit and other big cities, along a road nicknamed the “Hillbilly Highway.” The 6th has seen some economic recovery with extraction of oil and gas under its land. Jefferson County’s Steubenville has also gained construction jobs (Cohen & Cook 2022 Political Almanac).
Politically, this formerly Democratic blue-collar area has flipped, like much of coal country, to the GOP. Its population is 95% white, the third highest in the U.S., and has the lowest median income of any GOP-held OH district. Like neighboring WVA and KY, the Buckeye 6th has a strong strain of cultural conservatism. Trump won this district against Hillary by a 42% margin, (69%-27%). In 2020, Donald clobbered Biden by an even greater spread, 46 points, (72%-26%). Romney only won here by 12 percentage points. The recent Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the 6th a “y uu ge” R+24 score. The GOP chair in Columbiana, OH called the 6th “the very epicentre of the Trump groundswell,” a hard comment to refute (Cohen & Cook 2022).
Roseboro, N. Carolina native Bill Johnson was raised on his family’s farm. At 17, he joined the Air Force. He obtained a Bachelor’s in computer science from Alabama’s Troy University and a Master’s in computer science from Georgia Tech. As a director at U.S. Special Operations Command, he briefed congressional and intelligence officials. He retired in 1999 as a lieutenant colonel. In 2006, Johnson moved to OH where he worked making auto electronic components. In 2009, Johnson, founded an anti-tax group, the Ohio Sales tax reform Incentive to create tax holidays for shoppers (Cohen & Cook 2022).
In 2010, Johnson challenged two-term Rep. Democratic incumbent Charlie Wilson. Johnson attacked Wilson for being a “Speaker Pelosi puppet” because he voted for the economic stimulus bill act and Obamacare. With the help of the Chamber of Commerce, Johnson beat Wilson by five points. In a 2012 rematch, Johnson beat Wilson by 6 points. Johnson has handily won re-election since (Cohen & Cook 2022).
Cong. Johnson opposes any kind of federal regulation and sponsors bills to stop the “war on coal.” He is against restricting greenhouse emissions and opposes stricter fuel efficiency standards for cars (Cohen & Cook 2022). In 2019-2020, Cong. Johnson had a 72%-28% Almanac composite conservative/liberal rating. During Donald’s time in office, Cong. Johnson voted in line with him 96.8% of the time. He has voted with President Biden 13.9% of the time (Bycoffe, Aaron, fivethirtyeight.com, 1/30/17, Bycoffe Anna & Aaron, 4/22/21).
We should not be shocked in the slightest that Cong. Johnson jumped on Kevin McCarthy’s brief attempt to even “think” of criticizing Donald for his 1/06/2021 horrible behavior. Johnson opposes restrictions on gun ownership and has been endorsed by the NRA, National Rifle Association (webarchive.org, 10/09/12). He opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage (votesmart.org, 11/20/11). In 12/2019, the House debated the first impeachment of Trump for trying to withhold arms from Ukraine unless that country investigated the Bidens. Cong. Johnson then called on the House to “observe a moment of silent reflection for the 63 million voters who backed Trump in 2016 and Democrats today are wanting to silence.” In 6/2020, after police used tear gas to clear protestors to allow Trump to walk to St. Johns Episcopal Church for his absurd photo-op holding a Bible, Johnson strongly tweeted his support for Trump’s conduct (Cohen & Cook 2022).
Cong. Johnson perfectly fits his Trumpist OH 6th CD. Should the GOP take back the House in 2022, he will no longer be a wacko back-bencher but a prominent “Team Red” player. Democrats must, therefore, vote in droves plus in 11/22 to keep Johnson, McCarthy, and McConnell far from the seat of power. Our democracy depends upon it.