Two notable winners came out earlier this month in Wisconsin’s primary elections, with Mandela Barnes set to face incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) after winning the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate handily following the withdrawal of his top challengers.
On the Republican side, the Trump-endorsed Tim Michels clinched the nomination in the Republican race for governor, beating out the Pence-backed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in what is being seen nationally as a litmus test on whether Trump remains resonant for Republican voters. Michels, a businessman, who has stated that he believes the 2020 presidential elections were rigged, will face Gov. Tom Evers (D) in November.
Voter turnout in the state was the highest for a non-presidential election in 40 years, reaching 25.5 percent. It’s estimated that 693,000 Republicans turned out for the governor’s race while 501,000 Democrats turned out for the Senate race, reflecting the ease in which Barnes took the Senate race compared to the heated Republican gubernatorial slugfest.
“This isn’t about red or blue, or left or right. It’s about who’s been on top and the rest of us who Ron Johnson has consistently been left at the bottom,” Barnes said in a statement following his victory.
“Ron Johnson has spent his decade in Washington serving the special interests who donate millions to his campaign while he calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act and slash Social Security funding,” Barnes continued.
Some of Barnes’s priorities as Senator include supporting family farms and working to revitalize manufacturing industries in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Michels has been one of the most prominent supporters of Trump, even in a campaign field where name-dropping Trump has almost become a requisite, given the popularity of the former president among Republicans. Michels falls in line with the wave of Trump-endorsed Republicans who have been ousting their more traditional party counterparts in primaries across the country.
“Trump owns him, he owns Trump. That’s his problem, that’s not mine,” Evers said following Michels’s victory. “His relationship with Trump is going to drive this campaign.”
“He can wear a blue shirt so that he can have a blue collar, but at the end of the day I’m not quite sure that someone of his status with houses all over the country can say ‘I’m just one of you,’” Evers continued.
Wisconsin is a state where the midterm results will have an outsized effect nationally, as Democrats see the purple state as an opportunity to secure a seat in the Senate. Wisconsin is only one of six states in the country where there’s both a Democratic and Republican Senator.