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Lt Gov. Mandela Barnes chats with Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey, at a campaign event in Milwaukee in August 2019. Booker, a former presidential candidate, endorsed Barnes in his bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

One vote can make all the difference in the United States Senate. One vote can pass a new voting rights act. One vote can protect the right of workers to organize. One vote can tackle climate change and bring thousands of good-paying jobs to Wisconsin. One vote can reopen pathways to the middle class and create opportunities for families across Wisconsin.

With Sen. Ron Johnson breaking his promise and officially running for a third term, control of the U.S. Senate — and that one critical vote — is on the line in 2022.

Those are the stakes — but also the incredible opportunities that are in front of us. Johnson is the most vulnerable incumbent Republican senator in the country, and there is one Democratic candidate in Wisconsin who gives us our best chance to defeat him: Wisconsin’s own lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes.

Barnes was born and raised here in Wisconsin in one of the most economically challenged areas of the state. He comes from a proud union family. His dad worked third shift at the General Motors factory. His mom was a public school teacher. He saw firsthand how their union jobs were his family’s ticket into the middle class and his pathway to achieve something greater.

Barnes also saw firsthand how for many, both where he grew up and around the state, those same pathways of opportunity no longer exist. That’s what needs to change, and that’s what drives Barnes each and every day.

As lieutenant governor, Barnes has traveled to every corner of Wisconsin, listening to farmers, workers and small business owners, and working with Gov. Tony Evers to energize Wisconsin’s recovery. And while many talk the talk, Barnes has done the work — leading the Task Force on Climate Change and bringing together stakeholders to develop concrete solutions to the climate crisis that will create jobs here in Wisconsin.

Barnes’ story and experiences can inspire people across Wisconsin, bridging the racial, geographical and political divides. He can connect with voters of this state in a genuine and credible way because so many of their experiences are his experiences. Voters are tired of leaders who don’t understand what working Wisconsinites face — they want a senator who represents them and understands both their struggles and their hopes for the future.

Over the past five months, Barnes has built a broad coalition of grassroots support across Wisconsin, larger than the rest of the Democratic field combined. He’s earned endorsements from over 100 local leaders in every part of Wisconsin, from mayors to county executives, from state senators to school board members. In his first three months in the race he outraised all of his opponents combined, and did it with grassroots donations, not corporate PAC money.

He’s won support from respected leaders like U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. And recent polling has confirmed that Barnes is the overwhelming choice of Democratic voters in Wisconsin to take on Ron Johnson in November.

Across the state and the country people are coming together because they believe in Barnes and what he will bring to the United States Senate.

The time is now to come together, support Mandela Barnes, and take the fight to Ron Johnson. There is simply too much at stake — one critical vote — and no time to waste.

This column is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, state Rep. Jimmy Anderson, state Sen. La Tonya Johnson, state Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, state Rep. Marisabel Cabrera, state Rep. Tod Ohnstad, state Rep. Daniel Riemer, state Rep. Christine Sinicki, state Rep. Mark Spreitzer, former state Rep. Sandy Pasch, Beloit City Council President Clinton Anderson, McFarland Village President Carolyn Clow, Verona Mayor Luke Diaz, former Fitchburg Mayor Frances Huntley-Cooper, La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds, Superior Mayor Jim Paine, Waupaca Mayor Brian Smith, Madison Common Council President Syed Abbas, Milwaukee County Supervisor Russell Antonio Goodwin Sr., Milwaukee Alder Robert Bauman, Fort Atkinson Alder Mason Becker, Madison Alder Brian Benford, former Madison Common Council President Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Madison School Board member Savion Castro, Dane County Supervisor Yogesh Chawla, former Madison Alder Mo Cheeks, Milwaukee County Supervisor Ryan Clancy, Madison Alder Yannette Figueroa Cole, Madison Alder Jael Currie, Racine County Supervisor Nick Demske, Dane County Supervisor Michele Doolan, Verona Alder Chad Kemp, Madison Alder Tag Evers, Milwaukee School Board member Marcela “Xela” Garcia, Sauk County Supervisor Shane Gibson, Monona Alder Kristie Goforth, Milwaukee School Board member Jilly Gokalgandhi, Dane County Supervisor Anthony Gray, Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas, Brookfield Alder Mike Hallquist, Madison Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney, Milwaukee School Board member Marva Herndon, Racine County Supervisor Eric Hopkins, Racine Alder Maurice Horton, Racine School Board member Auntavia Jackson, Beloit City Council Vice President Brittany Keyes, Marathon County Supervisor Alyson Leahy, Racine Alder Melissa Lemke, Marathon County Supervisor Ka Lo, Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, Appleton Alderperson Vered Meltzer, Madison School Board member Ananda Mirilli, Shorewood School Board member Pablo Muirhead, Madison School Board President Ali Muldrow, Madison Alder Charles Myadze, Milwaukee School Board member Megan O’Halloran, Racine Alder Sam Peete, Milwaukee School Board President Bob Peterson, former Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes, Shorewood School Board member Paru Shah, Racine Alder Natalia Taft.

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