|Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly|
from the 11th district
January 7, 2013 – January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Jason Fields|
|Succeeded by||Jason Fields|
December 1, 1986|
|Alma mater||Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University|
|Occupation||Elected official, community organizer|
Mandela Barnes (born December 1, 1986) is an American politician and community organizer from Milwaukee. A former state representative, Barnes is a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin in the 2018 election.
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, LaTonya 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.
- "Mandela Barnes's Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
- "Micah, Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope". www.micahempowers.org. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- Delong, Katie (10 April 2012). "Mandela Barnes Announces Candidacy for State Assembly". Fox6.com. Fox 6 News. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- Marley, Patrick and Alison Bauter. "Longtime state legislators Fields, Krusick lose in primaries" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel August 15, 2012
- Bauter, Alison. "Mandela Barnes unseats incumbent Jason Fields in District 11" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel August 14, 2012 Archived January 27, 2013, at Archive.is
- "G.A.B Canvass Reporting System" (PDF). elections.wi.gov. Wisconsin Elections Commission. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- [ Richmond, Todd. "13 Wis. incumbents survive legislative primaries" RealClearPolitics August 15, 2012]
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- "2014 Fall General Election Results". elections.wi.gov. Wisconsin Elections Commission. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "Meet Advisory Council Member: Mandela Barnes | Social X Website - Social X Milwaukee". socialxmke.com. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- "Representative Mandela Barnes". docs.legis.wisconsin.gov. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- Williams, Justin (11 April 2016). "Rep. Mandela Barnes Challenging Lena Taylor for Seat on Wisconsin Senate". Fox6.com. Fox 6 News. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- Edmondson, Catie (3 July 2016). "Lena Taylor and Mandela Barnes Face Off in Closely Watched Race". jsonline.com. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "G.A.B. Canvass Reporting System County by County Report: 2016 Partisan Primary" (PDF). elections.wi.gov. Wisconsin Elections Commission. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- "Former state Rep. Mandela Barnes announces run for lieutenant governor". CBS58. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- "Endorsements - Mandela for Wisconsin". Mandela for Wisconsin. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- Intern. "Wachs campaign: Endorses Mandela Barnes for Lt. Governor, says "experience matters" | WisPolitics". www.wispolitics.com. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
- Milwaukee, Urban. "Mandela Barnes Wins 2018 DPW Convention Straw Poll with 80.9% of the Vote". Urban Milwaukee. Retrieved 2018-07-11.