Democrats surprise Republicans in battleground Wisconsin (copy)

Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes concedes to Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson at a news conference on Nov. 9 in Milwaukee. 

Wisconsin, I cannot thank you enough.

To my parents, who have been my biggest supporters, I wouldn’t be here without their hard work, which gave me the opportunity to become lieutenant governor and run this campaign.

Thank you to the volunteers who have knocked on doors, made phone calls, sent those texts and given everything they had. Thank you for your refusal to settle for the status quo and your commitment to fighting for better.

I got into this race because I believe that the American Dream is worth protecting. I believe that our workers and our family farmers and our children's futures are worth fighting for.

I got into this race because I believe in the Wisconsin promise of a fair shot at success. Whether you’re a dairy farmer in Monroe or a thrift store owner in Superior or a kid born on the corner of 26th and Locust in the heart of Milwaukee.

And I believe in that promise today more than I ever have before.

It’s a promise that has brought people together all across this state to fight for something bigger than ourselves. A lot of people counted us out during this campaign, but we showed them the progress we can make when we build coalitions, when we reach across the things that divide us, and when we stand together and say we deserve better, and that together we will fight for it.

We may not have made it over the finish line this time, but I know that this movement that has meant so much to all of us will keep going.

When I talked to Sen. Ron Johnson, I told him the same thing that I’ve been saying to all of you since the start of this campaign. I reminded him that every single person in this state deserves the chance to achieve their dreams.

Whether that dream is being able to send your kid to a quality public school knowing they’ll come home safely at the end of the day, or having the funds to start that small business that you’ve been thinking about for years now, or passing your family farm down to your children.

And I also told Ron Johnson I’d continue working to help make our state into what I know it can be. Because I still believe that better is possible, and I am in this for Wisconsin. I am in this for the community that raised me into the person I am today.

I am in this for people like my grandparents — a union steelworker and a school cafeteria worker — who worked their whole lives to lay a foundation for me. My story should never be the exception, it should be the rule.

I am in this for the auto workers in Racine who have been on strike for the last six months, standing shoulder to shoulder to fight for fair pay, benefits and health care.

I am in this for my friends John and Lauren, and so many others like them who have worked their entire lives to earn Social Security.

And I am in this for our kids who should know that opportunity is within reach, and that they can do anything they set their minds to.

We have so much more to do. And I will never stop working for Wisconsin to have everything we deserve.

I know you’re disappointed. I am, too. But more than that, I am determined.

Now is not the time for us to tune out. Now is the time for us to double down. To show up like we’ve never shown up before, and make sure that Ron Johnson and every political leader knows they answer to every person in Wisconsin — not just the people who voted for them.

I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the chance to travel to every part of this state. It’s been the honor of my life to hear your stories and have the important conversations about how we can improve quality of life for everyone across Wisconsin.

And whether or not we always saw eye to eye, I can’t tell you what it means to me that you gave me a chance.

Because I do believe that there is so much more that unites us than divides us — and all it takes is us reaching out and talking to each other to bridge that divide.

We knew this fight wasn’t going to be easy — hardly anything worth fighting for is easy. But I’m standing here tonight ready to jump back in. I’m ready to keep going. Because I know that we’re still in this together — and that’s all I’ve ever needed.

In these tough fights, I’m often reminded of a Bible verse I’ve carried with me throughout this campaign: Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

And together, we’re going to continue to persevere. We’re going to organize for better, we’re going to fight for better, and one day soon, we’re going to achieve better.

Thank you so much for this opportunity. Let’s move forward together, Wisconsin.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes was a recent candidate for U.S. Senate. 

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