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Milwaukee City Council member joins Democratic race for US Senate

Milwaukee City Council member joins Democratic race for US Senate

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Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis


Milwaukee City Council member Chantia Lewis announced Wednesday she’s running for the U.S. Senate, becoming the ninth Democrat to enter the 2022 race for the seat currently held by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

Lewis, 41, announced her candidacy the day after Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes joined the race. Both Lewis and Barnes are seeking to become the first African American to serve in the Senate from Wisconsin. Johnson hasn’t said yet whether he will seek a third term.

Lewis, in her launch video, is shown walking the streets of Milwaukee. Some scenes were filmed inside Sherman Phoenix, the venue where Barnes announced his candidacy.

“All my life I’ve been told what I can’t do,” Lewis says in the video, discussing her service in the Air Force, her current work as a pastor and her 2016 election to the Milwaukee City Council. She also takes jabs at Johnson, saying she is running for the working-class people who are not being represented by the two-term Republican from Oshkosh.

“Wisconsin can do better than Ron Johnson,” she said.

Johnson’s spokesperson did not respond to a message seeking comment about Lewis entering the race. Johnson also didn’t comment on Barnes’ entry into the crowded field.

Barnes spent the day campaigning in Madison, including a stop at a local brewery, and said his experience and qualifications will set him apart in the crowded field.

“These things aren’t easy. I’ve won a statewide primary before, not anywhere as packed as this one,” he said after tasting a Giant Jones Pale Weizenbock beer. “It’s a wide open field, a lot of people in there already. There may be more candidates, who knows. It’s a party.”

Although Johnson has remained coy about whether he plans to seek a third term, he did raise more money in the first half of the year than any of the Democrats who had joined the race by the end of June. Johnson is one of the top Democratic targets in swing state Wisconsin in 2022. He is one of the Senate’s most outspoken COVID-19 vaccine skeptics, he has promoted unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, and he has drawn criticism for downplaying the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

According to her official biography, Lewis returned to Milwaukee after serving in the Air Force, is a minister at her church and is studying for a master’s degree in theology. It says that during her time on the city council, she has been “crusading for anti-littering legislation to keep Milwaukee beautiful” and has been focused on sexually transmitted disease prevention.

In addition to Barnes, the other Democrats who have announced they are running for Senate are: state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski; Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson; state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee; Alex Lasry, who is on leave from his job as a Milwaukee Bucks executive; Dr. Gillian Battino, a Wausau radiologist; attorney and Democratic Party activist Peter Peckarsky; and Adam Murphy, an information technology business owner from Franklin.

Steven Olikara, founder of the Millennial Action Project, has formed an exploratory committee and is expected to join the race soon.

Fave 5: State government reporter Mitchell Schmidt shares his top stories of 2020

Choosing my five favorite stories of 2020 seems almost paradoxical.

This year has felt like one exhausting slog of pandemic stories, state Legislature updates and, oh yeah, a presidential election thrown in for good measure. Thanks to a split government, there's been no shortage of politically-charged stories here in Wisconsin and the partisan divide has, maybe unsurprisingly, felt as wide as ever throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

I don't know if "favorite" is the best way to describe them, but here are a few stories from 2020 that stood out to me:

Back in March, Gov. Tony Evers issued the state's first public health emergency in response to the then-emerging pandemic. At the time, Wisconsin had reported eight total cases of COVID-19.

As the pandemic progressed, positive cases and deaths climbed and state lawmakers battled over the appropriate response. In May, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Evers' stay-at-home order, a decision that still resonates today with the state's coronavirus-related measures.

One story I was particularly excited about before I officially started working for the State Journal was the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. However, like most things this year, the pandemic drastically altered that plan.

In non-pandemic news, the state in October formally denied billions of dollars in state tax credits to Foxconn Technology Group — a story we managed to get before any other outlet in the state through records requests and sourcing.

Lastly, in November I worked on a story about how GOP-drawn legislative maps once again disproportionately benefited Republicans in state elections. Wisconsin is headed toward another legal battle next year when the next batch of 10-year maps are drawn.

Feel free to read my top stories below, or check out my other state government articles from this year, (by my count, there have been more than 300 so far).

Also, thanks to all the subscribers out there. This year has been challenging on so many people, so your support is so much appreciated.


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