Democrat Barnes emerges as favorite in Wisconsin Senate race

Jul 27, 2022, 8:54 AM | Updated: 2:47 pm
FILE - In this July 17, 2022 file photo, Mandela Barnes participates in a televised Wisconsin Democ...

FILE - In this July 17, 2022 file photo, Mandela Barnes participates in a televised Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Senate debate in Milwaukee. Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry plans to drop out of Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race on Wednesday, July 27, 2022 less than two weeks before the Democratic primary, his campaign spokesman said. Lasry's departure in the race would leave Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes as the top Democratic candidate in the primary where the winner will advance to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

(AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes emerged Wednesday as the clear favorite in what had been a crowded Democratic field seeking to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, as his nearest rival dropped out and threw his support behind Barnes.

Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, who polls showed had been running tight with Barnes, explained his surprising move by saying Barnes had pulled ahead in recent weeks and there was no way he could catch him in the hotly contested primary for what is expected to be one of the most hard-fought Senate races this year.

“This wasn’t something where I thought we lost,” Lasry said, standing alongside Barnes outside the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee where the Bucks play. “I think Mandela won.”

The race in battleground Wisconsin, which Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016 but lost by a nearly equal number of votes in 2020, could determine which party holds majority control in the 50-50 Senate.

The move helps Democrats who want to avoid a nasty end to the primary and instead keep the focus on Johnson, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Barry Burden.

“Circling around somebody, presumably Barnes, is one way to try to make the chances of winning in November greater,” Burden said.

Lasry said he decided to drop out after consulting on Tuesday night with Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. This week, Barnes’ campaign released an internal poll that shows Barnes ahead of Lasry by 14 points.

“Look at the data, it just wasn’t there. Over the last seven, 10 days there was just a number of data points that showed Mandela’s support continued to grow,” Lasry told The Associated Press. “When we realized there was no path forward, we wanted to make sure we did everything we could to put our party in the best position to beat Ron Johnson.”

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who has trailed Barnes by double digits, vowed to remain in the contest along with other lesser-known candidates. On Monday, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson dropped out of the race and endorsed Barnes.

Even though Lasry and Nelson are ending their campaigns this week, both of their names will remain on the primary ballot. In-person absentee voting started Tuesday.

Lasry called Barnes a friend and said he looked forward to helping him beat Johnson. Barnes thanked Lasry for not running a negative campaign and said that unity will help Democrats take on Johnson.

“I know it’s going to be tough,” Barnes said. “It’s going to be difficult, an uphill battle. But I know it’ll be that much easier because we’re in this together.”

Barnes, who is Black, was born and raised in Milwaukee. He served two terms in the state Legislature before being elected lieutenant governor in 2018. Barnes opted against seeking a second term with Gov. Tony Evers to instead run for Senate.

Barnes, 35, contrasted himself with Lasry in the primary, emphasizing his middle class upbringing as the son of a public school teacher and factory worker, both union members. Barnes paid no income tax and was on the state’s Medicaid program while running for lieutenant governor in 2018.

He has secured some big-name liberal endorsements in the primary, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Citing those endorsements, Wisconsin Republican Party Executive Director Mark Jefferson said that as the primary approaches “Mandela Barnes will speak out of both sides of his mouth to convince voters that he is a moderate.” But he said Barnes will have to own President Joe Biden’s agenda, which Jefferson said is to blame for high inflation, rising crime and a weakened education system.

Lasry, 35, already had spent more than $12.3 million of his own money on the race. He had spent three times as much as Barnes through June, mostly on TV ads.

Barnes reported raising $2.1 million between April and June of this year, bringing his total to date to $6.1 million. It was the most of any Democratic candidate in the Wisconsin race who wasn’t self-funding, but his three-month total paled against the $7 million Johnson reported.

Lasry was born in New York City and moved to Milwaukee in 2014 after his billionaire father was part of a team that bought the NBA’s Bucks. Lasry served as an executive vice president for the team and has touted his connection to the 2021 championship Bucks, frequently mentioning their title run and employing union workers to build the stadium where the team plays.

He also played a pivotal role in landing the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. The event was moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Target, Krispy Kreme fall; Hill International, Lowe’s rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Wednesday: Target Corp., down $4.85 to $175.34. The retailer’s second-quarter profit fell far short of Wall Street forecasts as it slashed prices to clear unwanted inventories of clothing, home goods and electronics. Lowe’s Companies Inc., up $1.25 to $215.37. The home improvement […]
14 hours ago
Firearms are displayed during a news conference at the Homeland Security Investigations Miami Field...
Associated Press

US officials warn of uptick in weapons smuggled to Haiti

MIAMI (AP) — U.S. investigators say they have noticed an uptick in the amount and caliber of weapons being smuggled from Florida to Haiti in recent months. Anthony Salisbury, chief of the Miami Homeland Security Investigations office, said agents are increasing their efforts to stop the trafficking, noting rising gang violence around Haiti’s capital. Salisbury […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Appeals rulings at odds over Confederate-themed jury room

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two Black men who challenged their criminal convictions after jurors deliberated in a Tennessee courthouse room containing Confederate symbols have received opposite rulings from different judges on the same appeals court. One was granted a new trial. The other was denied. The conflicting decisions likely mean the matter will be appealed […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Medical groups, 20 states weigh in on Idaho abortion lawsuit

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A legal battle over abortion rights pitting one of the reddest states in the nation against the U.S. government has dozens of states and major medical associations seeking to weigh in. Twenty states, Washington, D.C., the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Children’s hospitals harassed over transgender care programs

BOSTON (AP) — Doctors and other staffers at Boston Children’s Hospital are being threatened with violence over its surgical program for transgender youths, administrators said, and other U.S. children’s hospitals are also being harassed online. Boston Children’s is home to the first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program in the United States. It became the […]
14 hours ago
Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, is photographed during an interview at the Bank of America ...
Associated Press

BofA CEO: Struggling Americans feel they are in a recession

NEW YORK (AP) — The CEO of Bank of America said the recent debate over whether the U.S. economy is technically in a recession or not is missing the point. What matters is that current economic conditions are negatively impacting those who are most vulnerable. “Recession is a word. Whether we are in a recession […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Democrat Barnes emerges as favorite in Wisconsin Senate race