Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes picked up a high-profile endorsement on Tuesday, earning the support of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Wisconsin's Democratic U.S. Senate primary.
A former presidential candidate and progressive leader, Warren praised Barnes as "the best candidate to defeat Ron Johnson and flip this seat in November."
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson hasn't yet said whether he'll seek a third term, but regardless of whether he runs, the seat will be heavily targeted.
Barnes is considered a frontrunner in the Democratic field, along with state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry.
“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 a statement. "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 said he was honored to receive Warren's endorsement, which he touted as "a testament to the hard work we’re doing to bring people together and build an economy that works for everyone."
A former community organizer in Milwaukee, Barnes served two terms in the state Assembly after being first elected in 2012. He challenged and lost to state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, in 2016, and went on to work for the State Innovation Exchange before running for lieutenant governor.
Barnes, 34, won the 2018 primary for lieutenant governor and went on to defeat Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch on a ticket with Gov. Tony Evers.
"For too many Wisconsinites, the doors of opportunity have been closed for too long. In Washington, I’ll work with Sen. Warren to change that by building up middle-class families, rooting out corruption and special interest influence, and ensuring that wealthy people and corporations are paying their fair share," Barnes said in a statement.
The primary will be held Aug. 9, 2022.
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