MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) — Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski left the Democratic U.S. Senate primary on Friday, the third candidate to drop out this week, making Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes the clear frontrunner to take on Republican Senator Ron Johnson.
The race on battlefield wisconsinDonald Trump, who narrowly won in 2016 but lost by a nearly equal vote in 2020, could determine which party has a majority stake in the 50-50 Senate. Johnson, who had not commented on the other two dropouts, weighed in after Godlewski exited the race.
“By showing their disrespect for voters and the Democratic process, Democratic leaders have now cleared the field for their most radical left-wing candidate,” Johnson tweeted. “Socialist policies have created this mess, and a far-left senator from Wisconsin is not the solution.”
Barnes, 35, would become the first black senator from Wisconsin if elected. He served two terms in the state legislature before being elected lieutenant governor in 2018. Barnes chose not to seek a second term from Democratic government Tony Evers to run for the Senate instead.
Godlewski’s decision to leave the race came after Outagamie County executive Tom Nelson pulled out on Monday and Barnes’ biggest rival, Alex Lasry, followed on Wednesday. Godlewski and Nelson followed Barnes and Lasry by double digits in the public polls.
“Obviously, if we want Ron Johnson to finally pack up, we all need to get behind Mandela Barnes and fight together,” Godlewski said.
Several lower-ranking candidates who polled in the low single digits will remain in the August 9 primaries, and even those who dropped out will still be on the ballot. The personal absentee voting started this week.
Barnes has emphasized his middle-class upbringing as the son of a public school teacher and factory worker, both union members. Barnes paid no income taxes and was on the state’s Medicaid program while running for lieutenant governor in 2018.
He has received some major Liberal approvals in the primaries, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
Godlewski, the only woman in the race, had made the fight for abortion rights the center of her campaign. But she said she ended her candidacy and supported Barnes because it would aid in the overriding goal of eliminating Johnson, a two-year incumbent and close ally of Trump.
Barnes, who was set to appear with Godlewski later Friday, said her decision put Democrats in a stronger position to defeat Johnson in November.
“This week has shown what it looks like when we come together for a cause bigger than ourselves,” Barnes said in a statement. “We are building a coalition that crosses generations, bridging racial and political divides. Farmers, union leaders, teachers, small business owners and working people in this state.”