Mandela Barnes

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes takes a photo with a supporter, and Gov. Tony Evers. 

(The Center Square) – The November 2022 election just got a bit more complicated in Wisconsin.

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on Tuesday announced he is running for U.S. Senate.

“I’m running for the United States Senate because when things get tough, we shouldn’t lower our expectations," Barnes said in a statement announcing his campaign.

The move is not surprising as Barnes had been inching toward a run against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson for a while. But Barnes’ entry changes next fall’s election.

First, Barnes is the most prominent Black candidate on the Democratic side. And secondly, Barnes’ decision to run for U.S. Senate means someone else will have to run for lieutenant governor.

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday thanked Barnes for his time as the state’s second-ranking leader.

“Mandela Barnes is a good friend and has been a great partner working to address challenges facing our state, and I’ve always said I would support any decision Mandela made about how best to serve the people of Wisconsin,” Evers said in a statement.

The governor stopped short of endorsing Barnes, however.

Barnes brings plenty of baggage to the race for Senate.

He’s faced questions about unreasonably high security detail costs, unpaid taxes, and past-due parking tickets. Barnes also only recently earned his college diploma, despite having claimed to have graduated from Alabama A&M years ago.

The crowded Democratic field for U.S. Senate next year includes Alex Lasry, the son of billionaire Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry, as well as Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, is considering a run, and Milwaukee alderwoman Chantia Lewis is a possible candidate as well.

They are all lining-up to run against Sen. Ron Johnson, who has not yet decided if he will run for a third term.