In Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes is already leading the Democratic primary


The Wisconsin Democratic primary isn’t until Tuesday, but after three of his top rivals dropped out of the race last month, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes is already ramping up his attacks against his Republican rival, Senator Ron Johnson.

In advertisements and speeches, Mr Barnes has begun to call Mr Johnson a pattern of hurting the state’s construction industry and failing workers. As his goal is to make the race a referendum on Mr Johnson, Mr Barnes has his weaknesses, and Republicans will certainly try to portray him as a leftist for Wisconsin.

But his strength, and Mr Johnson’s own polarizing qualities (he has pushed false theories about the coronavirus pandemic and Doubts about 2020 election), setting up a race that could help decide control of the Senate.

“What he pulled off is pretty impressive — to put an entire field behind him in such a short amount of time,” said Joe Zepecki, a Democratic strategist in Wisconsin. “He’s making a major debut, and you just have to tip your hat to him.”

Mr Barnes, 35, is entering the primary as the clear favorite after three of his main competitors were knocked out of the race in the span of a week at the end of July: Alex Lassery, an executive with the Milwaukee Bucks; Outgamy County Executive Tom Nelson; and Sarah Godlewski, state treasurer. All three have supported him.

To garner support, Mr Barnes, who is the state’s first black lieutenant governor and if he wins, will be its first black senator, launched a vigorous campaign focused on jobs and rebuilding the middle class. In an interview, he said that his campaign has benefited from the kind of coalition building he did as a community organizer. He also said it came down to widespread recognition among Democrats that the stakes were still very high.

“It’s about uniting the party, but it’s also about uniting the state,” Barnes said.

He is a leader in fundraising and name recognition among his remaining rivals, including Kou Lee, a restaurateur; Steven Olikara, a musician; Peter Pekarsky, an investigative reporter, lawyer and consultant; and Darrell Williams, a state emergency management administrator.

He has garnered support from centrists, including Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and both progressive Democrats such as Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren and New York’s Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina.

Wisconsin is one of the fiercest political battlefields in the country. Along with Michigan and Pennsylvania, it was one of the key states in the industrial center of the country that Mr Trump won in 2016, breaking the Democratic “blue wall” and leading up to his election.

Democrats have since bounced back somewhat. In 2018, Tony Evers was elected governor and Senator Tammy Baldwin won re-election. In 2020, President Biden won the state by just over 20,000 votes.

The Senate race is expected to come to a close. Mr Johnson, 67, who is seeking his third term, is one of the weakest Republicans in this cycle. recently Marquette University Law School Poll showed that they were viewed favorably by 37 percent of respondents and unfavorably by 46 percent. Additionally, Mr. Biden’s polling numbers are poor, and parties out of power usually do well in the mid-term during the president’s first term.

Mr Johnson has alienated many voters suggestion of gargling Mouthwash can prevent COVID-19, and said people who don’t like Wisconsin’s abortion laws can move on. He downplayed the US Capitol attack saying “looks like an armed rebellionand the floating theory in which Democrats edited videos exaggerate mob violence,

And the House 6 January committee came out this summer with embarrassing evidence that Mr Johnson wanted to hand deliver fake voter vote From Michigan and Wisconsin to Vice President Mike Pence. Mr Johnson admitted to having received the package but claimed he did not know where it came from or what was in it.

But Mr. Barnes stuck to the economic issues in his first attack. television commercials Against Mr Johnson, his message echoed throughout the Democratic primary. The ad criticized Mr Johnson for publicly praising outsourcing and defending a company that moved jobs from Wisconsin to China. On the road, Mr. Barnes has been critical of the senator giving suggestions on their comments Social Security and Medicare should be abolished as federal eligibility programs and instead be approved annually by Congress.

Mr Johnson has pushed back against the criticism and argued that he stood up for small businesses when He pushed for a tax provision To level the playing field for them in the 2017 Republican tax law. “A producer himself, Ron Johnson helped small businesses in Wisconsin stay competitive with larger ones by ensuring they got tax cuts that helped businesses across the state survive the pandemic,” Mr Johnson Ben Voelkel, a spokesman for the scale, benefit of provision His family-run plastics company,

Independent fact checkers have found that the claim from at least one Democratic group The reasoning of Mr Johnson’s vote for legislation rewarding “companies outsourcing to China” was false, and a 2021 study University researchers found that the law reduced incentives for US firms to move operations out of the country.

But fact checkers have also got Mr Johnson’s tax provision Extremely Wealthy Americans Gained Huge on small businesses.

Mr Barnes has also been the target of criticism. He has been cited for paying his property taxes late, and Republican activists and local leaders have sought to portray him as a far-left Democrat who takes stances such as ending US immigration and customs enforcement. support.

“Mandela Barnes will speak with both sides of his mouth to convince voters that he is a liberal,” said Mark Jefferson, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

At one point, Mr Barnes was photographed holding an “Abolish ICE” shirt, although he has said this is not his position. Most recently, he opposed the Biden administration’s proposal to end Trump-era policy Title 42, which was introduced during the pandemic and used to turn away most migrants at the US-Mexico border was. Mr Barnes argued that Mr Biden should have a comprehensive plan to handle the surge of people crossing the border first.

Mr Barnes, whose father worked a third shift at a General Motors factory and whose mother was a longtime schoolteacher, is betting his record and biography will help him withstand the attacks. He became a community organizer after watching former President Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

By the time he was 25 in 2012, Mr. Barnes had defeated a sitting state legislator in his hometown of Milwaukee. He lost the Senate bid four years later, but won his race to become lieutenant governor in 2018 with Mr Evers at the top of the ticket and a dire focus on the economy.

Wausau, Wis. Mayor Katie Rosenberg said Mr Barnes was talking about issues of care for residents, including affordable child care and health care, expanding broadband and the need to stop corporate takeovers of family farms. Earlier this year, the two visited small businesses ravaged by the pandemic. He also got tattoos done in support of the local tattoo parlor. Mr Barnes painted it on his TIC Toc,

“I am an optimist,” said Ms Rosenberg. “I think he can do that. He has a lot of momentum.”


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