Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of Congress’s most prominent progressive members, is endorsing Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes to be the Democratic Party’s standard-bearer against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in the 2022 midterm elections.
Warren’s endorsement of Barnes should give him a leg up in the quest for progressive votes in the state’s Democratic primary, where he’s competing against state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and Alex Lasry, a former Obama administration official whose father owns the Milwaukee Bucks.
Barnes is already the best-known candidate in the race, and his campaign released an internal survey last month showing him with a healthy lead for the Aug. 9, 2022, primary. Warren’s endorsement could signal the beginning of the party coalescing behind Barnes even without the direction of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is playing a less active role in picking candidates this cycle.
The race is seen as Democrats’ best chance to defeat an incumbent GOP senator in 2022. Wisconsin is a perennial swing state, and though Johnson has twice pulled off political upsets, Democrats hope his endorsements of former President Donald Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud and his misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine will alienate middle-of-the-road voters.
In a statement, Warren said Barnes was “a tireless advocate for people all across Wisconsin” and “the best candidate” to challenge Johnson in 2022.
“Growing up in a proud union family, Mandela knows that to rebuild the middle class we need to change the game in Washington,” Warren said. “In the Senate, we will work together to root out the corruption and special-interest influence that delivers handouts to the wealthiest people and largest corporations while leaving working people and small businesses behind.”
Barnes has collected endorsements from a host of national progressive groups, including from Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the Working Families Party, along with Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore, who represents Milwaukee in Congress.
Lasry and Nelson have collected endorsements from local elected officials, and Godlewski has the backing of EMILY’s List.
Barnes said he was “honored” to have Warren’s endorsement.
“We’re building a historic movement in every corner of Wisconsin, and Senator Warren’s endorsement is a testament to the hard work we’re doing to bring people together and build an economy that works for everyone,” he said.