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TheGrio: Mandela Barnes talks Obama campaigning for him in Wisconsin and wanting to bring change to the Senate

TheGrio: Mandela Barnes talks Obama campaigning for him in Wisconsin and wanting to bring change to the Senate 

  • Mandela Barnes likely owes his political career to former President Barack Obama. The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin — and the state’s current lieutenant governor — was inspired in 2004 by then-Senator Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. 
  • “That’s what prompted me to get engaged. I felt encouraged when I heard his words because they were words that I hadn’t necessarily heard before,” Barnes told theGrio during a recent sit-down interview. “The way that he made his story so relatable to people all across the country and how, you know, he led with his story being a uniquely American story. It was inspiring.” 
  • Now, Obama, America’s first Black president, is coming to Barnes’ hometown of Milwaukee on Saturday to campaign for the young politician he inspired nearly two decades ago. 
  • If successful in his bid for Senate on Nov. 8, Barnes could, like Obama, make Black American history. Barnes, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, would become Wisconsin’s first Black U.S. senator. However, it wouldn’t be the first time Barnes made history in the Badger State. In 2019, when he was elected as lieutenant governor, Barnes became only the second Black person elected to statewide office in Wisconsin’s history.
  • “Ron Johnson said he’s against raising the minimum wage. He’s against expansion of health care. He’s against family leave,” said the lieutenant governor. “He’s against everything that will help make quality of life for working people better.”
  • “I’m running because better is possible, and I believe we can give everybody in this state, in this country, a fair shot at the American dream,” he said. “But it takes people who actually share our experiences and people who share our values … people who want better for somebody other than themselves.”

Read the full story here.