First on CNN: Barnes raises more than $20 million in third quarter of closely watched Wisconsin Senate race


Democratic Senate candidate Mandela Barnes raised more than $20 million in the third quarter of 2022, according to the Wisconsin lieutenant governor’s campaign details, dwarfing what he raised in his entire Senate bid.

Barnes is seeking to unseat Sen. Ron Johnson, the Republican incumbent seeking a third term, in what has become one of the Senate’s most watched midterm campaigns. With a split Senate, any race this November could tip the balance of power in the legislature, but Barnes’ race against Johnson is one of the Democrats’ best chances to flip a Senate seat.

It has been a tight race for months. A Marquette University Law School poll released in mid-September found that 49 percent of likely Wisconsin voters approved of Johnson, compared to a statistically lukewarm 48 percent for Barnes. But the poll was an improvement for Johnson: The same poll found Barnes at 52% in August, the incumbent at 45%.

Barnes’ fundraising efforts should help Democrats level the advertising field in the race after spending in September.

According to AdImpact, Republicans spent nearly $22.5 million on ads in September, compared to $16.5 million for Democrats. The biggest spender in the race at the time was the Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC with close ties to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The team spent nearly $8 million in September. Senate Majority PAC, the main Democratic super PAC focused on Senate races, spent just over $6 million.

While Republicans spend money hammering away at crime, Barnes has tried to focus on the main issue motivating Democratic voters in 2022: Roe v. Wade: In light of the June Supreme Court decision that overturned abortion.

“I’m proud of the grassroots coalition we’ve built across Wisconsin,” Barnes said in a statement to CNN. “This last stretch we’re going to continue everywhere and hold Ron Johnson accountable for a dangerous ban on abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest or a woman’s life. It has nothing to do with Wisconsin values ​​and we’re going to send him packing.”

The Democrat recently launched a statewide campaign called “Ron Against Roe,” an effort that will capitalize on opposition to the June Supreme Court ruling. A Marquette poll found more than 60% of Wisconsin voters opposed the decision. Barnes also released a new ad attacking Johnson for passing a 2011 bill introduced by Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker that would have enshrined the “right to life” concept.

“Johnson’s views are disturbing. Johnson supported a ban on abortion, sponsored a bill that makes no exceptions for rape or incest or a woman’s life. And Johnson said if the women don’t like it, they can move,” says a narrator in a new Barnes ad.

Johnson has since tried to push back against the abortion attacks, saying he believes the issue should be left to Wisconsin voters, including by updating an 1849 law that bans nearly all abortions, including exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. in the game But Johnson agreed with the Supreme Court in Roe v. The repeal against Wade and has put his name several times to a bill that would make abortions illegal after 20 weeks of conception.

While Barnes focuses on abortion, Johnson’s campaign has focused on attacking the Democrat on crime, including endorsements from law enforcement agencies and running ads linking Barnes to efforts to “get rid of the police.”

“Mandela Barnes: dangerously liberal on crime,” says a narrator in a final ad before showing Johnson standing next to a police officer.

Ben Voelkel, Johnson’s spokesman, responded to Barnes’ fundraising: “All the extra-state liberal money in the world can’t change the fact that Mandela Barnes supports the Police Defunding and Abolish ICE movements, he wants to cut the prison population in half and 40-year high inflation and gas prices It backs the same economic policies that brought Biden the record.

Barnes has responded by denying income, including a retired Racine Police Department sergeant with an ad declaring that Barnes “doesn’t want to get rid of the police.”