By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — A real coalition of Wisconsin sheriffs — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — has endorsed U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s re-election run, according to the Oshkosh Republican’s campaign.
A total of 51 of Wisconsin’s 72 county sheriffs are backing Johnson over his Democrat challenger, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who has had some problems acquiring and keeping law enforcement endorsements.
“Senator Ron Johnson cares about the safety of the citizens in Wisconsin. His continued support of law enforcement and those that risk their lives every day to keep all of us safe is appreciated,” said La Crosse Country Sheriff Jeff Wolf. “We need Senator Johnson to continue his efforts for all of us and I am proud to endorse him in the upcoming election.”
Wolf, a Republican, is set to retire in January after a 34-year career in law enforcement. Long-time La Crosse County investigator Fritz Leinfelder, a Republican, is running against La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department Captain John Siegel, a Democrat who’s been with the sheriff’s department for 28 years. The Barnes campaign last week noted Siegel as a member of a “coalition” of nine law enforcement officers that endorses Barnes. After Siegel said he never agreed to support Barnes, the campaign said it had made a “clerical error” in including the officer’s name on its list.
A day later, the campaign removed from its “coalition” the only other active-duty officer said to have endorsed the Democrat, Racine County Deputy Sheriff Malik Frazier. A spokesman for the Racine County Sheriff’s Department told CBS 58 that while Frazier personally supports Barnes in the U.S. Senate race, officers cannot publicly endorse a candidate according to federal laws.
That left Barnes’ with just seven endorsements — all from retired officers.
The diminutive coalition could have something to do with Barnes’ push as a lawmaker to do away with cash bail. He also was photographed proudly holding an “Abolish ICE” T-shirt. And his campaign has received a lot of cash and support from Defund the Police activists.
Meanwhile, law enforcement officers across the state have lined up behind the incumbent senator.
“Senator Ron Johnson has seen the violent acts that occur frequently against our law enforcement professionals across this Nation with many of those actions resulting in line of duty deaths. Senator Johnson seeks to ensure the safety of our local and State law enforcement officers through his efforts to further the Thin Blue Line Act,” said Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks. “At the same time, Senator Johnson continues to make a difference in the lives of those persons who can be frequent law enforcement contacts by his continued efforts and support of The Joseph Project, which connects people with opportunities for self-improvement and employment. I support Senator Johnson and would encourage your support too.”
Empower Wisconsin | Sept. 22, 2022