Barnes joins 2022 race for U.S. Senate

By: - July 20, 2021 9:26 am
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes addresses the approximately 165 members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquarters, during an Oct. 2019 sendoff ceremony at Volk Field, Wis. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Vaughn R. Larson CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes | Wis. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Vaughn R. Larson CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, 34, announced Tuesday morning he is running for U.S. Senate for the seat held by Republican Ron Johnson in an increasingly crowded field. 

“The current system isn’t working for the people of Wisconsin,” Barnes, a Democrat, said in an email to his supporters. “Hard work just isn’t paying off like it used to. People just like you and me work longer and longer for less and less while big corporations and CEOs bring in larger profits than ever before.”

In addition to Barnes, Democrats who are already running are: State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks’ executive Alex Lasry (on leave for the campaign), Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, state Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Wausau radiologist Gillian Battino, Milwaukee attorney Peter Peckarsky and software developer Adam Murphy.

Instead of changing our dreams … we need to change the game,” Barnes added. “It’s time to stand for something. For opportunity. For everyone.” If elected, Barnes would be Wisconsin’s first Black U.S. senator. Johnson has not yet formally declared if he will run for re-election. He had said previously that he would not, but is giving indications in statements and fundraising that he has changed his mind.

He announced his candidacy with a tweet: “Hard-working families deserve every opportunity, but politicians like Senator Ron Johnson aren’t delivering. Instead of changing our dreams, we need to change the game.”

Gov. Tony Evers issued a statement about Barnes and the 2022 field of candidates, but stopped short of endorsing his running mate. Evers has generally stayed away from endorsements in Democratic primaries.

“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.”


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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.