Top Wisconsin Democrats focus on Sen. Johnson in debate

Top Wisconsin Democrats focus on Sen. Johnson in debate

Top Democrats vying for a chance to take on U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin turned their sights on their Republican opponent during Sunday’s first and only televised debate, where the only female candidate blamed men for not doing more for abortion rights. .

The debate bringing together the five candidates took place just three weeks before the Aug. 9 primary. The winner will face Johnson, who is seeking a third term, in what is expected to be one of the nation’s most expensive and hotly contested races with majority control of the Senate.

Polls show Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry leading the crowded field. Both Barnes and Lasry focused on Johnson, not each other, in the debate, as they advocated escaping the Senate filibuster to pass a bill protecting abortion rights, passing gun protection laws, protecting the environment and tax changes to benefit the middle class. .

Burns pointed to his 2018 victory as then-Governor Tony Evers’ running mate. Scott Walker as proof that he knows how to beat a statewide Republican. Lasry cited his union support for suing Johnson.

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, the only woman in the race, took aim at her male opponents on abortion, asking why they didn’t make it more of a priority before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision last month. 1849 State law banning abortion in Wisconsin goes back into effect.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, who was trailing in the election, attacked Godlewski for not voting in the 2016 election won by Donald Trump. He briefly carried Wisconsin that year before losing the state by nearly the same 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 a man lecturing me about how important the 2016 election was,” Godlewski said, citing her work for Clinton as director of outreach to female voters. “I was the only one. One talking about reproductive rights because it’s not a concern for me.”

Barnes, who launched a television ad last week in which his mother spoke about terminating the pregnancy, said she supported exploring “every option to ensure women get the health care they need and deserve.”

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

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

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

Campaign finance reports filed last week showed Johnson raised nearly $7 million over the past three months, more than the top four Democratic candidates combined. Lasseri, whose father co-owns the Milwaukee Bucks, loaned his campaign $6.5 million of his own money.

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

Lasseri actually cost Johnson $6.7 million in personal loans even though his campaign brought in only $520,000 in outside donations.

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

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