Candidates For U.S. Senate
Barnes vs Johnson comes down to the wire.
Your phone, mailbox and email inbox likely leave you knowing more about the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race and the two candidates than you ever thought possible. And that will continue right up until election day, Nov. 8.
See candidates for other races via the link at the bottom of this article.
Want to see what’s on your ballot and where to vote? Visit MyVote Wisconsin to see your polling place and access a sample ballot.
Below you’ll find basic information copied verbatim from candidate campaign materials and a link to any available campaign resources. If you click on their name you’ll be brought to any stories written about the candidate. Candidate names are listed in the order they appear on the ballot.
Mandela Barnes – Democratic
Mandela doesn’t come from a wealthy or well-connected family. But he does come from a proud union family. He was born in Milwaukee in one of the most impoverished and incarcerated Zip codes in the state. His dad worked 3rd shift at the GM factory and his mom was a Milwaukee school teacher for 30 years. Mandela’s parents taught him the values of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of a good education. Their union jobs were his family’s ticket into the middle class.
That’s a ticket too many people can’t get anymore, no matter how hard they work. Life is getting more expensive and it’s getting harder to get ahead.
A spark was lit in Mandela when he heard Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic convention, and he realized the problems he saw around him were things he could try to fix.
After college, Mandela became a community organizer in his hometown where he fought to bring good jobs to the community.
Frustrated by a lack of action from the lawmakers on the issues affecting working people and the middle class, Mandela decided to run for office. He became a Wisconsin State Representative at 27 and stood up to Scott Walker’s anti-union agenda. In 2018, Mandela helped Tony Evers kick Scott Walker out of office and, at 31, became Wisconsin’s first Black Lt. Governor — and only the second Black elected official statewide.
As Lt. Governor Mandela has worked closely with Governor Evers to help Wisconsin recover from the pandemic. Mandela has been central to the campaign to encourage communities across the state to get vaccinated, traveling to urban and rural areas to energize Wisconsin’s recovery.
Governor Evers recognized Mandela’s expertise and years of work on environmental issues by appointing him as chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change. The Task Force brought together a diverse coalition of farmers, environmental advocates, Indigenous leaders, and business executives to produce 55 concrete strategies for how Wisconsin can begin to address the climate crisis.
Just like when Mandela first ran for office, right now Wisconsinites deserve better than what they are getting. Wisconsin family farmers are being squeezed out by big corporations. The manufacturing jobs that sustained Mandela’s family are getting shipped overseas — the factory where his dad worked is a strip mall now. And China has been more than happy to pick up the slack.
Sadly, politicians like Senator Ron Johnson are standing in the way of progress. Johnson has turned his back on Wisconsin, delivering for his wealthy donors and peddling wild conspiracy theories and cynical attacks that divide us for political gain. Ron Johnson wants to pit Wisconsinites against each other. But Mandela knows that in every corner of the state, there is more that unites us than divides us
Hard working families like Mandela’s don’t want handouts. They just want a fair shot.
Mandela understands the struggles of working people because they are his struggles too. He is running for Senate to rebuild the middle class and give everyone a fair shot at the American dream.
In the Senate, Mandela will bring a new perspective to Washington, to fight for opportunity for every child, person, and family in Wisconsin, regardless of their ZIP code. He will put middle class families first and stand up to the lobbyists and big corporations that have all the power in Washington. He will fight to create opportunity in every corner of Wisconsin, bring manufacturing back, create jobs by tackling climate change, and stand up for Wisconsin’s family farmers
Prior to serving as Lt. Governor, Mandela was elected to the State Assembly where he emerged as a champion on issues of the environment, economy, education, racial justice, and health care. He became the chair of the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus in his first term, became a national leader on gun violence prevention, and was recognized as one of the top pro-growth progressive leaders in the country. He also worked as a community organizer in Milwaukee and served as Deputy Director of Strategic Engagement for the State Innovation Exchange, sharing progressive best practices with state legislatures across the country.
Mandela serves on the Governor’s Health Equity Council, Wisconsin Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Wisconsin Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability, and the statewide 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.
Ron Johnson – Republican
Ron Johnson is an Oshkosh manufacturer who spent more than 30 years creating jobs and solving problems in the private sector. He’s bringing his outsider’s approach to help Wisconsinites keep more of their paychecks and protect our local communities from threats to our national security.
As a boy, Ron mowed lawns, shoveled snow, delivered papers, and caddied for a few extra bucks. At the age of 15, he obtained his first tax-paying job as a dishwasher in a Walgreens grill.
In 1977, after graduating with a BSB-Accounting degree, he married his wife Jane, and started working as an accountant at Jostens. He also continued his education by enrolling in an MBA night program.
In July of 1979, Ron and Jane moved to Oshkosh to start a business with Jane’s brother. At the company – PACUR – Ron did everything from operating the equipment to keeping the company books, and from selling its products to managing staff.
In 2010, Ron ran for the United States Senate, defeating 34-year career politician Senator Russ Feingold in his first race for a political office.
Now, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Ron has focused on finding areas of agreement to take on Washington dysfunction and get results for Wisconsin. He believes Wisconsinites deserve to keep more money out of their paychecks rather than send it to the bureaucrats in Washington.
Ron is focused on growing our economy and creating good jobs and economic opportunity for all, which is why he supports pro-growth tax reform and reducing burdensome regulations.
He’s also standing with Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers, and families against the EPA’s water rule to regulate small ponds, ditches, and creeks on private property, affecting 92 percent of the land in Wisconsin and driving up costs and killing jobs due to added government regulation.
When it comes to national security, Ron helped pass a law through Congress to keep terrorists out of the U.S. by reforming the visa waiver program our enemies could use to slip into our country.
He’s using his committee to push real solutions like destroying Islamic terrorism, securing the border, stopping sanctuary cities, and protecting our country against cyber attacks. And Ron is committed to standing up for our veterans by bringing accountability to the VA and promoting programs that help connect veterans with good jobs.
Ron is getting real results for local families and Wisconsin communities. He helped start the Joseph Project with Pastor Jerome Smith of Greater Praise Church of God in Christ, an initiative that connects folks with good jobs and is truly turning people’s lives around.
He also fought to help Wisconsin families bring home their children they adopted from war-torn Congo, is pushing for Right to Try legislation to get Washington out of the way of terminally ill patients who want to try life-saving drugs, and has been a major backer of legislation to help address our drug epidemic, in addition to his work to secure the border to stop the flow of drugs into the U.S.
Ron resides in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with his wife Jane. They have three children and two grandchildren.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.
- Vote Tuesday: 2nd District Common Council Race - Urban Milwaukee - Nov 7th, 2022
- Vote Tuesday: Milwaukee Candidates for Wisconsin State Senate - Urban Milwaukee - Nov 5th, 2022
- Vote Tuesday: Milwaukee Candidates For State Assembly - Urban Milwaukee - Nov 5th, 2022
- Vote Tuesday: Candidates For U.S. Senate - Urban Milwaukee - Nov 4th, 2022
- Vote Tuesday: Candidates For Attorney General, Secretary of State, Treasurer - Urban Milwaukee - Nov 4th, 2022
- Vote Tuesday: Candidates For Governor and Lieutenant Governor - Urban Milwaukee - Nov 4th, 2022
Read more about 2022 Fall Election Guide here