|Lieutenant Governor-elect of Wisconsin|
January 7, 2019
|Governor||Tony Evers (Elect)|
|Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly|
from the 11th district
January 7, 2013 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Jason Fields|
|Succeeded by||Jason Fields|
|Born||December 1, 1986|
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Education||Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (BA)|
Barnes previously served two terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly representing District 11, encompassing northern Milwaukee and a small part of Wauwatosa, but did not run for re-election, choosing instead to compete in the 2016 Democratic Party primary for the Wisconsin State Senate. Barnes lost the 2016 primary race to incumbent Lena Taylor on August 9, 2016.
Early life and education
Barnes was born in Milwaukee on December 1, 1986, the son of a public school teacher and a United Auto Workers member. He attended Milwaukee Public Schools, including John Marshall High School; and graduated from Alabama A & M University. He worked for various political campaigns and in the office of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, eventually becoming an organizer for M.I.C.A.H., a Milwaukee-based interfaith coalition that advocates social justice. Barnes is currently the Deputy Director of Strategic Engagement for State Innovation Exchange, a national progressive public policy organization based in Madison.
Barnes is active in a number of organizations serving the greater Milwaukee Area including: the Newaukee Advisory Board, Social X Advisory Board, past Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County, Board Member for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Advisory Board Member for the New Leaders Council, Community Advisory Board Member for the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility, NAACP, and the Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals. Barnes also serves as the 2nd Vice Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.
State Assembly (2013-2017)
In April 2012, Barnes announced his candidacy for Wisconsin State Assembly District 11, representing the north side of Milwaukee, challenging incumbent Jason Fields in the Democratic Party primary election. Barnes' campaign made major issues of Fields' support for the school voucher program, and Fields’ opposition to limiting interest rates charged by payday loan companies, whose charges can exceed a 500% annual percentage rate. His win was seen as a loss for the pro-voucher American Federation for Children, which pumped over $100,000 into primaries in greater Milwaukee to support candidates, none of whom won.
Barnes defeated Fields in the August 2012 primary, winning the Democratic Party nomination with 2,596 votes to Fields' 1,206. In the November general election, Barnes was considered the presumptive winner, since no opposition candidate filed against him. He received 16,403 votes to 201 scattered votes for others.
Barnes was reelected to his seat in 2014 without facing either a primary or general election challenge.
Barnes served on the Assembly Committees on Corrections, Education, Jobs & the Economy, and Small Business Development. He also served as the chairman of the Legislature's Black and Latino Caucus and helped lead a number of international delegations to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Barnes authored numerous pieces of legislation during his time in office, including reforms to the parental choice program, juvenile justice reforms, a new grant program for community prosecutors, extending out-of-home care for youth in the foster system, early release reforms, ending the use of solitary confinement in prisons, expanding victim and witness advocacy services, establishing a community schools grant program, investigation of juvenile corrections programs and facilities, expanding eligibility for the earned income tax credit, providing tuition-free enrollment for technical college students, creating an Office of Civil Service, allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister to vote, decriminalization of marijuana, and comprehensive gun control legislation.
2016 State Senate campaign
On April 11, 2016, Barnes announced that he would vacate his Assembly seat to launch a primary challenge against Lena Taylor, the Democratic incumbent in Wisconsin State Senate District 4. Some political observers, such as professor and former State Senator Mordecai Lee, expressed surprise at Barnes' announcement, noting both the rarity of Democratic Senate primaries and the 90 percent reelection rate for incumbents in Wisconsin. Some also framed the race as reflective of the broader struggle in the Democratic Party, pitting a young progressive challenger against an older, more centrist incumbent.
Barnes lost to Taylor by a wide margin in the August 9 election, winning only 7,433 votes to Taylor's 11,454.
Lieutenant Governor Campaign (2018)
In January 2018, Barnes announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin in the 2018 election. Barnes has been endorsed by U.S. Congressman Mark Pocan, State Senators Tim Carpenter, Jon Erpenbach, La Tonya Johnson, Chris Larson, and Bob Wirch, as well as over 23 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Assembly - including former Gubernatorial Candidate Dana Wachs. Barnes has also been endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers Local 212, Communications Workers of America, Democracy for America, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, MoveOn.org, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin (PPAWI), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, United Auto Workers WI State CAP Council, and the Wisconsin Working Families Party.
On August 14, 2018, he won the Democratic primary and is the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tony Evers.
2015 Confrontation with Protester
In 2015, protester and videographer Miles Kristan recorded video of himself asking Assemblyman Barnes in public "if Wisconsin taxpayers should pay for a Bucks arena," regarding Barnes' vote to fund a Bucks arena. After the encounter, Barnes confronted Kristan and seemingly pushed him. Barnes said he pushed Krisitan's camera away, but did not assault Kristian.  In 2017, Wisconsin Republican Party spokesperson Alec Zimmerman resurfaced the allegations, criticizing Barnes for "attacking a man." Barnes accused Zimmerman of libeling him and characterizing him as a "scary black man."
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- "2014 Fall General Election Results". elections.wi.gov. Wisconsin Elections Commission. November 14, 2014. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
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- Edmondson, Catie (July 3, 2016). "Lena Taylor and Mandela Barnes Face Off in Closely Watched Race". jsonline.com. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
- "G.A.B. Canvass Reporting System County by County Report: 2016 Partisan Primary" (PDF). elections.wi.gov. Wisconsin Elections Commission. August 23, 2016. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
- "Former state Rep. Mandela Barnes announces run for lieutenant governor". CBS58. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- "Endorsements - Mandela for Wisconsin". Mandela for Wisconsin. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- Intern. "Wachs campaign: Endorses Mandela Barnes for Lt. Governor, says "experience matters" | WisPolitics". www.wispolitics.com. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- Milwaukee, Urban. "Mandela Barnes Wins 2018 DPW Convention Straw Poll with 80.9% of the Vote". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- Thompson-Gee, Justin. "Former State Rep. Mandela Barnes strongly considering run for lieutenant governor." CBS 58 Milwaukee, Oct. 18, 2017. https://twitter.com/MSpicuzzaMJS/status/1060062761974145025
- Morateck, Sam (March 2, 2018). "Barnes Can't Shake Assault Allegation". Retrieved November 4, 2018.
- Marley, Patrick (October 17, 2017). "Mandela Barnes is considering running for Wisconsin lieutenant governor". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
- Bauer, Scott (January 10, 2018). "Former state Rep. Mandela Barnes running for lieutenant governor". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved November 4, 2018.
| Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Taking office 2019