Graham Kilmer

Barnes Urges Supporters To Keep Fighting for Change

Lt. Governor who lost US Senate race thanks supporters in speech at Sherman Phoenix.

By - Nov 9th, 2022 04:14 pm

Mandela Barnes ends senate campaign at Sherman Phoenix. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Mandela Barnes ended his campaign for U.S. Senate Wednesday where it he began it, at the Sherman Phoenix in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood surrounded by family and supporters.

Despite Barnes’ narrow loss to Republican Senator Ron Johnson, he and other top Wisconsin Democrats said his campaign was proof that coalition politics is the future of the party.

“We showed the progress that we can make when we build coalitions,” Barnes said. “When we reach across the aisle, when we reach across communities, and we think about the things that unite us rather than the things that divide us.”

Barnes thanked all his volunteers, supporters and campaign staff, and noted that the primary and general election were hard fought and that they were outspent by other campaigns every step of the way.

“I got into this race because I believe that the American dream that gave me the opportunity to stand here as lieutenant governor is a dream worth protecting and a dream worth fighting for.” Barnes said. “I believe in our working people, our family farmers, our children’s futures are absolutely worth fighting for.”

Barnes said he understood his supporters disappointment, adding, “I’m disappointed too, because we all deserve better. But more than that, I’m determined… This is not the time to tune out. It’s time for us to double down,” he said. “Show up like you’ve never shown up before, to make sure that Ron Johnson and every political leader knows they answer to every person in Wisconsin, not just the people they voted for.”

Barnes told supporters that he had spoken with Johnson. “And I told him the same thing that I’ve been saying all along, the thing I’ve been saying to each and every one of you since I started this campaign. I reminded him that every single person in this state deserves a chance to achieve their dreams.”

The last thing Barnes said to his supporters was, “I can honestly say that we fought the good fight. I’ve run my race and I kept the faith, and I want to thank you for having faith in me. I want to thank you all for this opportunity. Now let’s all move forward together.”

Party Chair Assesses Post-Midterm Landscape

Ben Wikler, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said that Democrats performed well in Wisconsin Tuesday with Gov. Tony Evers winning re-election and state assembly candidates blocking a Republican supermajority there. He said the Barnes campaign defied every poll and expectation in the U.S Senate race, having lost by such a narrow margin.

Wikler pointed to the massive spending on attack ads by third-party groups and said, “They flooded our state with some of the most vicious, divisive ads that our state has ever seen, and we’ve seen a lot.”

Asked by a reporter how much of a factor he thought race and racism were, Wikler said, “Ron Johnson’s campaign, and his leader and allies sought to divide Wisconsinites by race, and to provoke fear… and the level of intensity was appalling, calling Mandela Barnes different and dangerous.”

Wikler said Wisconsin will remain a “tipping-point-state” in the 2024 presidential election, that will also see Sen. Tammy Baldwin up for re-election.  Pointing to Barnes’ narrow loss as a harbinger of future victory, he said, “The fact that Mandela Barnes, in the face of a withering assault, was able to energize and turn out voters in every corner of the state says it’s a state where we can win.”

With spring elections just five months away, Wikler said, “The first and most important thing is that we don’t pack it up and go home. We keep on organizing every day.”

Categories: Politics, Weekly

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