Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes releases first progressive policy plan in Senate race

Facebook: Mandela Barnes

Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes released his first policy plan on Thursday, highlighting a number progressive proposals including the passage of a new voting rights act and calling for an end to the filibuster. 

“We’ve got to do more to protect our democracy in this country,” Barnes said in an interview with The Hill. “This entire year has shown just how fragile things are and how much more fragile things can be if we don’t act immediately.” 

Barnes, who has been endorsed by the likes Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), bemoaned what he said was a lack of progress on a number of issues in the Senate, including with President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation, which is still being negotiated in the chamber. 

The lieutenant governor laid blame on the filibuster, a parliamentary tactic that allows the minority party to block legislation that doesn’t get 60 voters, for the lack of progress. 

“We should be delivering for the people of this country. It’s not happening, and the filibuster continues to serve as a roadblock,” he said. 

When asked about Biden’s involvement in negotiations on passing reforms like Build Back Better, Barnes said the president’s involvement “could potentially muddy the process.” 

“It feels like there’s a feeling that they’re OK bucking the president,” Barnes said. “We saw that happen over the infrastructure bill. We continue to see it in the large scale packages people are looking for. Build Back Better, we’re still debating that. These are things that theoretically we should have seen passed in the first three months [of Biden’s presidency].” 

Barnes addressed the Justice Department’s move to sue Texas over its new redistricting that the department claims illegally undermines minority groups’ right to vote, saying he hopes the agency takes similar measures against other states facing similar redistricting issues. 

“The gerrymandering that we’re experiencing in Wisconsin and other states just like us is undemocratic and makes people have less faith in the process because it doesn’t allow for government to effectively respond to the people,” he said. 

Barnes vowed in his plan to fight for national redistricting reform in the Senate. 

In the plan, Barnes also calls for stopping big corporations and special interest groups from “buying political influence.” Barnes vowed that as senator he will push for a constitutional amendment that overturns the Supreme Court’s decision on the Citizens United case, which protects the rights of corporate and labor groups to spend money promoting federal candidates. 

Additionally, the plan calls for strengthened ethics rules for elected officials, as well protections against “election subversion.” Barnes hit incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) for his recent calls for state lawmakers to assume control of federal elections in the state. 

Barnes is one of 12 candidates running the Democratic Senate primary and is seen as the front-runner in the intraparty contest. His campaign raised $1.1 million between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry also raised more than $1 million during the time period, but each donated large sums of money to their own campaigns. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson (D) raised around $223,000 during the same period. Eighty-eight percent of donations to Nelson’s campaign during the period were under $200, according to his campaign. 

Polling in the race has been relatively scarce, but a poll from the left-leaning Data for Progress released last month showed Barnes at 39 percent support, with Lasry trailing at 16 percent, Nelson at 6 percent and Godlewski at 5 percent. 

Whoever wins the Democratic primary could potentially go on to run against Johnson. However, Johnson has yet to confirm whether he is officially running for another term. 

“If it’s him, so be it,” Barnes told The Hill, referring to Johnson. “If not, oh well.”  

Tags 2022 midterm elections Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden Mandela Barnes Mandela Barnes Ron Johnson Wisconsin Senate race
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