The son of a teacher and a 3rd shift UAW worker.
Mandela’s story is a Wisconsin story.
Mandela doesn’t come from a wealthy or well-connected family. But he does come from a proud union family. He was born in Milwaukee in one of the most impoverished and incarcerated Zip codes in the state. His dad worked 3rd shift at the GM factory and his mom was a Milwaukee school teacher for 30 years. Mandela’s parents taught him the values of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of a good education. Their union jobs were his family’s ticket into the middle class.
That’s a ticket too many people can’t get anymore, no matter how hard they work. Life is getting more expensive and it’s getting harder to get ahead.
A spark was lit in Mandela when he heard Barack Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic convention, and he realized the problems he saw around him were things he could try to fix.
After college, Mandela became a community organizer in his hometown where he fought to bring good jobs to the community.
Frustrated by a lack of action from the lawmakers on the issues affecting working people and the middle class, Mandela decided to run for office. He became a Wisconsin State Representative at 27 and stood up to Scott Walker’s anti-union agenda. In 2018, Mandela helped Tony Evers kick Scott Walker out of office and, at 31, became Wisconsin’s first Black Lt. Governor — and only the second Black elected official statewide.
As Lt. Governor Mandela has worked closely with Governor Evers to help Wisconsin recover from the pandemic. Mandela has been central to the campaign to encourage communities across the state to get vaccinated, traveling to urban and rural areas to energize Wisconsin’s recovery.
Governor Evers recognized Mandela’s expertise and years of work on environmental issues by appointing him as chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change. The Task Force brought together a diverse coalition of farmers, environmental advocates, Indigenous leaders, and business executives to produce 55 concrete strategies for how Wisconsin can begin to address the climate crisis.
Just like when Mandela first ran for office, right now Wisconsinites deserve better than what they are getting. Wisconsin family farmers are being squeezed out by big corporations. The manufacturing jobs that sustained Mandela’s family are getting shipped overseas — the factory where his dad worked is a strip mall now. And China has been more than happy to pick up the slack.
Sadly, politicians like Senator Ron Johnson are standing in the way of progress. Johnson has turned his back on Wisconsin, delivering for his wealthy donors and peddling wild conspiracy theories and cynical attacks that divide us for political gain. Ron Johnson wants to pit Wisconsinites against each other. But Mandela knows that in every corner of the state, there is more that unites us than divides us.
Hard working families like Mandela’s don’t want handouts. They just want a fair shot.
Mandela understands the struggles of working people because they are his struggles too. He is running for Senate to rebuild the middle class and give everyone a fair shot at the American dream.
In the Senate, Mandela will bring a new perspective to Washington, to fight for opportunity for every child, person, and family in Wisconsin, regardless of their ZIP code. He will put middle class families first and stand up to the lobbyists and big corporations that have all the power in Washington. He will fight to create opportunity in every corner of Wisconsin, bring manufacturing back, create jobs by tackling climate change, and stand up for Wisconsin’s family farmers.
Prior to serving as Lt. Governor, Mandela was elected to the State Assembly where he emerged as a champion on issues of the environment, economy, education, racial justice, and health care. He became the chair of the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus in his first term, became a national leader on gun violence prevention, and was recognized as one of the top pro-growth progressive leaders in the country. He also worked as a community organizer in Milwaukee and served as Deputy Director of Strategic Engagement for the State Innovation Exchange, sharing progressive best practices with state legislatures across the country.
Mandela serves on the Governor’s Health Equity Council, Wisconsin Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Wisconsin Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force, the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and Capability, and the statewide 2020 Census Complete Count Committee.