Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes enters Senate race

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes enters Senate race
© Facebook: Mandela Barnes

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) is jumping into his state’s U.S. Senate race.

“I’m running for the United States Senate because when things get tough, we shouldn’t lower our expectations," Barnes said in a statement. “Instead of changing our dreams, we need to change the game. Hard-working Wisconsin families deserve every opportunity, but politicians like Senator Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes Internal poll shows Barnes with 29-point lead in Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate facing 4 felony charges MORE aren’t delivering.”

Barnes has long been expected to announce a Senate bid. He joins an increasingly crowded field of Democratic contenders lining up to challenge Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) next year. Other prominent Democrats in the race include state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

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Johnson has not yet said whether he will seek a third term in the Senate, though he’s raising money as if he’s preparing for another campaign. From April through the end of June, Johnson pulled in more than $1.2 million, outpacing each of his potential Democratic rivals.

Barnes is perhaps the highest-profile Democrat to enter the race so far. He served in the Wisconsin General Assembly for two terms starting in 2013 before losing a primary challenge to state Sen. Lena Taylor in 2016.

He mounted a comeback in 2018, winning the primary for lieutenant governor before joining Gov. Tony EversTony EversWisconsin governor seeks to intervene in redistricting case Former Wisconsin lieutenant governor launches gubernatorial campaign Ron Johnson says 'nothing obviously skewed' in Wisconsin election results MORE in successfully ousting former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R). Barnes is the first African American to serve as the state’s lieutenant governor.

In a statement on Tuesday, Evers praised Barnes as a “good friend” and “great partner working to address the challenges facing our state,” saying that he supported his lieutenant governor’s decision to enter the Senate race.

But Evers refrained from endorsing Barnes’s Senate bid, suggesting that he would wait until after the primary to throw his support behind a specific candidate.

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“At the end of the day, Wisconsin deserves better than someone like Ron Johnson, who’s chosen to embrace reckless conspiracies that have risked public health and jeopardized our state’s economic recovery,” Evers said.

“We’re lucky to have strong Democratic candidates who are running to send him packing, and I look forward to supporting Wisconsin Democrats’ choice to take on Ron Johnson in 2022.”

Johnson, an ardent ally of former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE, has taken on the role of arch-villain among Democrats, who are hoping to capture the momentum that helped propel both Evers’s win in 2018 and President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE’s 2020 victory over Trump.