In a matchup in a swing state that could develop into one of the most competitive races of the midterms, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin will defend his seat against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.
According to NBC News’ predictions, Johnson easily won the state’s Republican primary on Tuesday night. Prior to the withdrawal of his top Democratic rivals late last month, which opened Barnes’ path to the nomination, NBC predicted that Barnes would face a more difficult primary campaign.
In their battle to maintain their precariously thin Senate majority, Democrats have focused exclusively on Johnson’s seat. In a state that President Joe Biden won in 2020, the only Republican senator running for reelection is the two-term incumbent, who has the support of former President Donald Trump. Johnson’s approval ratings are declining, according to numerous polls.
Democrat Critics Claim Johnson, 67, Spread
Democrats who claim Johnson, 67, spread false rumours about the coronavirus and the validity of the 2020 election, among other contentious statements, have targeted him for criticism.
Johnson is accused of using his position in Congress to advance himself and wealthy donors at the expense of regular voters in attack ads that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has already spent money on.
If he wins in November, Barnes, 35, would join the Senate as the youngest person ever and the first Black senator from Wisconsin. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., among other well-known politicians, have endorsed him.
Barnes Has Come Under Fire From Johnson’s Campaign
Barnes has come under fire from Johnson’s campaign as a “career political activist” who is too liberal for the purple state of Wisconsin, which Trump won in 2016 and only narrowly lost in 2020.
Prior to being elected lieutenant governor, Barnes worked as a community activist after graduating from college and represented Wisconsin in the State Assembly. Additionally, he doesn’t shy away from advocating for progressive social causes. On his TikTok account, for example, he has posted videos urging the Senate to repeal the filibuster, enshrine Roe v. Wade in law, and pass the Equality Act to protect transgender people.
However, Barnes’ campaign has largely concentrated on economic issues, highlighting his Milwaukee middle-class upbringing and drawing comparisons to Johnson’s position as one of the richest senators.
As the candidates move closer to the general election in November, more funding is anticipated to enter the race. By July 20, Johnson’s campaign had raised more than $17 million compared to Barnes’ $7 million total, though Barnes’ campaign reported on August 1 that it had raised $1.1 million in just one week after his Democratic rivals came together in support of him.
According to Forbes, super PACs for both candidates have already invested millions of dollars in Wisconsin.