Former Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate back Barnes in ‘unity’ before primaries

With the primaries less than two weeks away, some Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate see the fight as far from over.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 6:24 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2022 at 8:10 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With the primaries less than two weeks away, some Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate see the fight as far from over. Others have turned to party unity, as they look further down the road to the general election.

Sarah Godlewski announced Friday she is suspending her campaign and endorsed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is the current frontrunner.

“I know that right now what we have to do is, we have to get behind Mandela Barnes to defeat Ron Johnson,” she said.

Earlier this week, Outagamie Co. Executive Tom Nelson (Monday) and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry (Wednesday) ended their respective campaigns and backed Barnes.

Barnes said Friday, “This is about uniting the party, and I will say that we are more united than we’ve ever been before.”

There may be other interests for mobilizing behind the likely Democratic nominee, according to Eleanor Powell, a UW-Madison associate professor of political science.

“This is going to be a big, expensive general election, so money spent on the primary races fighting each other is money they can’t spend in the fall to defeat Johnson,” she said. “Dropping out early lets everybody save resources.”

Other Democrats plan to stay in the ring, including Kou Lee, who wrote to NBC15, in part: “The path to victory is never easy. No one knows. I have not come this far to quit.”

Steven Olikara said he leaves the party nominee up to the voters.

“We will unite after August 9, and I intend that our campaign will be the one that Wisconsinites are uniting around,” Olikara said.

While some are getting out, staying in the race may be about more than winning the nomination.

“As the last candidate standing, maybe they can help to elevate their position a little bit. They probably couldn’t win the nomination, but get a little bit more visibility, a little bit more name recognition for some future political ambition down the road,” Powell said.

Also Friday, two other Democratic candidates gave a joint update in regards to equal time on air.

“How can we ask people to make an informed decision about who to vote for whom they’re not being allowed to see the faces and hear the voices of the people they’re being asked to vote for?” Darrell Williams said.

Peter Peckarsky, also on the primary ballot, said, “It is up to you, the people, to realize this is your property. This is your election.”

In last month’s Marquette Law School Poll for the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, Mandela Barnes led the way, even ahead of the now-former candidates.

The others still in the race got the support of 1 percent or less.

At the time, about a third of respondents said they were undecided.

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