Mandela Barnes joins a crowded field as the likely frontrunner
In Junie, Mr Johnson said he was “undecided” on running for reelection in an interview with the Associated Press, toevoeging: “I’m going to do nothing to hamper our ability as the Republican Party to retain this US Senate seat.”
The 34-year-old would be one of the youngest members of the US Senate if elected, as well as Wisconsin’s first Black senator. Mr Johnson, who has held the seat for two terms, has yet to publicly announce whether he will seek a third term and as recently as June said he was undecided on the issue.
Mr Barnes is part of a large field of contenders for the primary, but enters the race with a name recognition advantage being one of just two statewide elected officials in the field, the other being state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski.
Others in the primary include Alex Lasry, vice president of the NBA Championship-winning Milwaukee Bucks, and a member of the state Senate, Chris Larson.
In an ad released on Tuesday, Mr Barnes struck a hopeful tone while noting his early entrance into high school and college. He also committed to fighting for lower prescription drug prices and medical costs, while staying away from specific policy endorsements.
“It’s time for us to stand for something,” Mr Barnes narrates in the ad. “For opportunity. Jobs that we can support a family on. Education that we can build a future on.”
I’m Mandela Barnes and I’m running to be Wisconsin’s next Senator.
Hard-working families deserve every opportunity, but politicians like Senator Ron Johnson aren’t delivering. Instead of changing our dreams, we need to change the game. Join us. pic.twitter.com/XzVS3WHqQf
— Mandela Barnes (@TheOtherMandela) Julie 20, 2021
Mr Johnson has remained a staunch loyalist to former President Donald Trump throughout his second term, and was one of a number of Republican senators who pledged to vote to object to the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in November. Egter, he reversed course following the events of 6 Jan, and voted in favour of certification.
In the months following, Mr Johnson has attempted to whitewash the events of 6 Jan on several occasions, including one instance where he told a local radio station that the siege on the Capitol “didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me”.
His indecision over seeking a third term could indicate that Mr Johnson is unsure of his chances for success in a reelection bid; he narrowly won a second term in 2010, long before his most recent controversies, defeating former Sen Russ Feingold and winning just 50.2 per cent of the vote to Mr Feingold’s 46.8 persent. The state, which previously supported Mr Trump in 2016, also flipped blue in support of Mr Biden in November.
In Junie, Mr Johnson said he was “undecided” on running for reelection during a Milwaukee Press Club event, toevoeging: “I’m going to do nothing to hamper our ability as the Republican Party to retain this US Senate seat”.