Top Wisconsin Democrats focus on Sen. Johnson in debate

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Top Democrats vying for the chance to take on U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin kept their focus largely on the Republican opponent during Sunday’s first and only televised debate, while that the sole candidate criticized men for not doing more to advocate for abortion rights.

The debate that brought together five candidates took place just over three weeks before the august 9 primary. The winner will advance to face Johnson, who is seeking a third term, in what is expected to be one of the most expensive and disputed races in the country with majority control of the Senate at stake.

Polls show Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry leading the pack. crowded field. Both Barnes and Lasry focused on Johnson, and not each other, in the debate as they advocated getting rid of Senate filibuster to pass a bill protecting abortion rights, passing gun safety laws, protect the environment and tax changes to benefit the middle class. .

Barnes pointed to his victory as Gov. Tony Evers’ running mate in 2018 over the then-governor. Scott Walker as proof that he knows how to beat a Republican across the state. Lasry highlighted his union support to defend his case confront johnson.

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, the only woman in the race, took aim at her male opponents on abortion, asking them why they hadn’t made it a priority before the US Supreme Court struck down last month. decision Roe v. The 1849 state law banning abortion in Wisconsin goes back into effect.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, who has fallen behind in the polls, attacked Godlewski for not voting in the 2016 election won by Donald Trump. He narrowly won Wisconsin that year before losing the state by a nearly identical margin in 2020.

Godlewski worked for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Wisconsin in 2016, but records show she did not vote.

“As the only woman on this stage, I don’t need any man lecturing me on how important the 2016 election was,” Godlewski said, highlighting her work for Clinton as director of outreach to women voters. “I was the only one who spoke about reproductive rights because for me this is not an afterthought.”

Barnes, who last week released a TV ad in which her mother talked about having to terminate a pregnancy, said she supported exploring “every option to make sure women get the health care they need and deserve.”

Lasry, who noted that his wife works for Planned Parenthood, said defeating Johnson and ending the filibuster is the key to passing legislation protecting abortion rights.

“We need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to make sure that women can make their own health care decisions in the same way that men can make their own health care decisions,” Lasry said.

A fifth candidate, Steven Olikara, pointed to his experience leading a group called the Millennial Action Project that worked to empower young people to bridge the partisan divide. He said he was running to change the system and reduce the influence of big money in politics.

Campaign finance reports filed last week showed Johnson raised about $7 million in the last three months, more than the four leading Democratic candidates combined. Lasry, whose father is part owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, lent his campaign $6.5 million of his own money.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the latest campaign finance reports showed Johnson had about $2 million on hand after spending about $6.5 million on ads during the second quarter.

Lasry actually outspent Johnson by $6.7 million thanks to the personal loan, though his campaign only got $520,000 in outside donations.

Barnes raised $2.1 million in donations, Godlewski raised $900,000 and lent his campaign $600,000, and Nelson raised $230,000.


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