Ron Johnson hits Mandela Barnes over Scalise shooting remark in new ad

Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) reelection campaign on Monday rolled out a new ad criticizing Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) for a tweet he sent out deriding Senate Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) after he was shot by a gunman in 2017 during practice for the Congressional Baseball Game. 

In a digital ad shared first with The Hill, Johnson’s camp panned Barnes, his general election opponent, for tweeting that Scalise was “taking one for the team” with the 2017 incident. 

“Mandela Barnes coddles criminals and mocks victims,” the ad’s narrator said, adding that Barnes “isn’t fit to be a senator.” 

The ad fits squarely with the anti-crime narrative Johnson’s campaign and GOP outside groups have attempted to pin on Barnes, and it has helped fuel the incumbent senator’s rise in recent polls. According to eight polls of the race conducted over the past month, Johnson leads in six of them and is tied with Barnes in one other.

“I question how people vote against self interest but this is next level. He literally almost died on this hill,” Barnes added in the tweet. 

As for Scalise, he was anxious to jump into the Senate battle on behalf of Johnson as he took part in a pair of radio interviews in the Badger State on Monday. When shown the tweet last week, the Louisiana lawmaker told Punchbowl News the remark was “disgraceful.” 

“It says a lot more about his lack of character to be in essence condoning political violence,” he added. 

In a statement, the Wisconsin Democrat did not apologize to Scalise for the remarks. 

“This is a very personal topic for me as someone who has experienced the pain of losing friends and loved ones to gun violence. My comments came from a place of frustration with politicians like Ron Johnson who see gun violence happen everyday and turn their backs on solutions that would keep people safe,” Barnes said.

News of the Scalise tweet came a day after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel unearthed a number of tweets Barnes sent out over the years, including that former President Trump was a “Russian spy” and said that former President Washington should not be considered one of America’s top presidents because he owned slaves. 

Tags 2022 midterm elections Mandela Barnes Ron Johnson Ron Johnson Steve Scalise Steve Scalise Trump Wisconsin

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