Here's an update on Ron Johnson, the plastics company executive who's running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dave Umhoefer is reporting that Johnson postponed Q&A meetings with two tea party groups after he received "a skeptical reception from constitutional conservatives in Jefferson County. (Personal disclosure: Dave is a former colleague of mine at that Milwaukee paper). You'll recall that Johnson is running for the GOP nomination to face Democrat incumbent Russ Feingold this fall. Johnson, president of Oshkosh, Wis.-based PET sheet extruder Pacur LLC, is counting on an anti-Obama, anti-incumbent trend, so support from the tea party sector may be important. Umhoefer reported that "tea party activists were skeptical, saying Johnson may be regrouping because he couldn't seem to satisfy the Rock River Patriots with specific policy positions on constitutional issues such as gun rights, property protection and limited government."
"Johnson is probably a sincere guy and I think on a gut level he's conservative, but he hasn't taken the time yet to develop his positions," said Ken Van Doren, an official with Campaign for Liberty.Here's a message for all of the company executives out there who are tempted to jump into politics: check out the comments section of the Journal Sentinel story for just a taste of the kind of criticism you should prepare to face. Partisan debate can be nasty, and it's definitely not something that typical business executives face every day -- except for the ones at BP, these days.