Wisconsin’s sole statewide Black candidate expected to win the lieutenant governor’s office after scoring a major primary election victory on Tuesday.
Former state Rep. Mandela Barnes came away with 68 percent of the vote against his Democratic rival. He’ll team up in November with Tony Evers, who won the Democratic nomination for governor. They’ll take on Republican incumbents Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
Barnes, a 31-year-old Milwaukee native, was confident about the Democrats’ chances in the fall.
“Scott Walker is under water. I don’t see how Scott Walker gets elected for another term, and most people don’t. So, it’s not as uphill a battle as people may think, actually,” Barnes told NewsOne.
If recent polls hold, Barnes could indeed become Wisconsin’s next lieutenant governor. The race for governor and lieutenant governor are seen as a referendum on Walker, who has held the state’s governorship since 2010. A Marist College poll in July gave Evers a 54 percent to 41 percent lead over the incumbent governor.
Milwaukee voters elected Barnes at age 25 to represent them in the state assembly. If elected lieutenant governor in November, he vowed to continue pushing for the issues that impact Wisconsin families, and particularly underserved communities like the one in which he was raised. Those issues include criminal justice reform, economic development and improving education.
“I was born in our 53206 zip code–that’s the nation’s most incarcerated zip code for Black men,” he stated, adding that a study determined that Milwaukee is one of the five worst places in the nation to raise a Black family.
Barnes said he knows—first-hand—the challenges underserved communities face and decided early in life to use politics as a vehicle to make a difference.
“I think we need people who actually lived what they’re talking about,” the candidate said. “Almost nobody brought that perspective to government when I first ran for office. Now, running statewide, there’s nobody else bringing that perspective.”