Mandela Barnes declares bid in race for Wisconsin’s Senate seat

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Wisconsin Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes has joined the crowded Democratic field for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. (Angela Peterson/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

By J.K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

Wisconsin’s first Black Lieutenant Governor has made his bid for the Senate.

Mandela Barnes [D-WI], announced his candidacy for Senate July 20. A Barnes win would make him the state’s first Black Senator.

Progressive groups have rapidly lined up to endorse Mr. Barnes, including Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the Collective Political Action Committee, a PAC dedicated to equity in political representation, specifically, putting Blacks in office in numbers that represent populations statistically.

Barnes was MoveOn’s first endorsement of the 2022 cycle. The candidate also has the endorsement of the Wisconsin Working Families Party, who hosted a zoom call on July 25.

“Wisconsin was the first state to declare the Fugitive Slave Act unconstitutional, Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote, Wisconsin was the first place to put anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation on the books, we’ve been bold on things before, and we have to get back to that place where we’re doing bold things again,” Mr. Barnes said on the call. “And this is the campaign that’s gonna get it done.”

Barnes spoke of his particular pride in his work on change as lieutenant governor.

As lieutenant governor, Mr. Barnes helmed the Governor’s Task Force concluding with 55 solutions, including paying farmers to increase carbon storage in the soil of agricultural and working lands, low cost debt-financing for customer green energy projects and a mandate to study racial disparities in climate change.

“Obviously, there’s still so much more room to grow, looking at the landscape and what our realistic opportunities were, I think we did an incredible job,” Barnes said. “This included people from Milwaukee, organizations led by people of color, our farmers and we had very robust tough difficult conversations. We put out a product that we can be proud of and in the end can be a roadmap for states like Wisconsin and many others.”

The race for the Wisconsin Senate seat continues to crowd. There are nine candidates declared in the Democratic primary alone. The incumbent, Ron Johnson [R-WI], has not yet announced if he will seek reelection.

“Regardless of your ZIP code, regardless of your previous financial situation, we got more than enough to go around here, in the United States,” Mr. Barnes said. “And we have to be bold in the way that we address inequality.”

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