Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes is embarking on an overcrowded Senate primary to be the Democratic nominee in 2022. His entry reinforces what is expected to be one of the renowned primaries in the midterm elections.
Barnes joins seven other Democrats who have already run for the Senate. They are lining up to potentially take on incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who has yet to say if he will run for a third term.
“Hard-working families deserve every opportunity, but politicians like Sen. Ron Johnson are breaking their promises,” Barnes tweeted Tuesday.
Barnes is the first black lieutenant governor elected in Wisconsin and only the second black elected statewide. Barnes easily won his lieutenant governor’s primary in 2018 before he and Gov. Tony Evers narrowly beat former Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the general election. Barnes also served two terms in the State Assembly from 2013 to 2017.
Her announcement video focused on her family’s working-class roots and said families in Wisconsin need more opportunities. Barnes was supported by the Liberal Campaign Committee for Progressive Change.
“The system doesn’t work. You see so many people working longer hours and harder, often for a lot less,” Barnes said in his announcement video. “Let us have no fear in being afraid to work together to change the situation.”
Wisconsin will be one of the main battlegrounds in the midterm elections, with competitive races for Governor and Senate. President Biden won Wisconsin by 20,000 votes as a razor last November, and Evers defeated Walker in 2018 by around 30,000 votes. Cook Political Report rates the Wisconsin Senate race as a tossup.
The Democratic field has already attracted top candidates. Milwaukee Bucks Executive, who launched his campaign in February, has already raised $ 2 million and has $ 1 million in cash. Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who entered the race in April, is supported by EMILY’s List and raised over $ 500,000 in the last quarter. Outagamie County Manager Tom Nelson, who launched his campaign late last year, raised $ 240,000 in the last quarter and has $ 406,000 in the bank.
Other candidates who have entered the race in recent months include Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson, radiologist Gillian Battino, business consultant Adam Murphy and attorney Peter Peckarsky. Steven Olikara, founder and former CEO of the Millennial Action Project, announced in May that he was forming an exploratory committee for a possible Senate nomination.
Barnes’ entry into the race comes about a month after he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he graduated from Alabama A&M University in May 2020. Barnes finished attending school in 2008 and said during his 2018 campaign that he graduated from it, although he had not yet met all of the requirements for it.
Although Johnson has not said if he will run for another term, he raised more money than his potential Democratic challengers in the last quarter, bringing in nearly $ 1.1 million. He’s got $ 1.7 million in the bank.
At a Milwaukee Press Club event last month, Johnson said he didn’t feel pressure to make a decision quickly and noted that he only jumped in his race in 2010 seven months before the election. . Johnson added that his main goal is to retain the Republican seat.
“I will not do anything to impede our ability as the Republican Party to retain this seat in the United States Senate,” Johnson said. Former President Trump encouraged Johnson to run in April when he endorsed the outgoing senator.
Barnes’ decision to run for the US Senate means there will likely be an open competition to join Evers on the Democratic ticket in November 2022. Evers announced last month that he would stand for reelection. Wisconsin holds primary elections for lieutenant governor and the candidate who wins that race is entered on the ballot along with the candidate for the party’s governorship.
In December, Evers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “I’d rather (Barnes) be lieutenant governor,” but vowed to respect any political decisions Barnes made. He thanked Barnes for his work, but did not offer approval on Tuesday.
“Mandela Barnes is a good friend and has been a great partner working to meet the challenges facing our state, and I have always said that I would support any decision Mandela made on how best to serve the people of Wisconsin,” Evers said in a statement. . “We are fortunate to have strong Democratic candidates coming forward to send him packing, and I look forward to supporting the Wisconsin Democrats’ choice to face Ron Johnson in 2022.”