MADISON — There’s good news and bad news for radical left U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes.
The lieutenant governor is leading his liberal rivals in Milwaukee County, according to a new poll. But the No. 1 issue facing county residents is crime. That’s tough for the Democrat, who has vilified law enforcement while placating the unhinged defund-police movement.
Barnes is favored by 39 percent of likely Democratic primary voters in Wisconsin’s largest county, according to the poll, conducted by Remington Research Group. That’s a sizeable lead in the crowded field of eight Democrats vying to replace U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. The Oshkosh Republican hasn’t announced whether he will seek a third term.
His lead in Milwaukee was so daunting perhaps that fellow candidate and Milwaukeean state Sen. Chris Larson dropped out of the Dem primary.
The poll was commissioned by Milwaukee Works, Inc. a 501c4 nonprofit that advocates for moderate or centrist public policy issues. Such moderates are unlikely to be found in a field of radical liberals, all trying to out-left their opponents.
Respondents — 22 percent — rank crime, as in the need to lower it, and improving neighborhood safety, as their top issue..
Just how Barnes is going to make Milwaukee a safer place as he pushes for an expansion of Milwaukee County’s revolving door prison system and coddles left-wing advocates calling for closing jails and replacing police with social workers is unclear.
One thing’s certain: Many parts of Milwaukee are not safe places to be. As of Tuesday, the city had posted 103 homicides this year, two more than 2020, a historic year of violence (189 homicides).
Playing the part of a guy looking to run for U.S. Senate, Barnes has spent the past year-plus trying to avoid or shrug off the “defund” question. He doesn’t want to go down that “rabbit hole.” But he’s clearly on the side of a lot more money for government welfare programs and a lot less money for public safety in the form of law enforcement.
“Even for a person who doesn’t want to go down the ‘defund’ rabbit hole, I think the same people would agree that we should probably have a little bit of parity in our spending,” he told WUWM in an interview last year. “When it comes to social services, when it comes to libraries, when it comes to after school programs, when it comes to school funding — the problem is that lack of parity. There’s this huge discrepancy in the amount of money and how easily it goes to police departments versus these other critical services that could ultimately save a person’s life.”
Barnes and his current boss, Gov. Tony Evers’ have spent their time broadly painting law enforcement as “systemically racist” and as an enemy to social justice. They were both quick to condemn the Kenosha officer who shot Jacob Blake, a black man involved in a domestic disturbance. The Aug. 23 shooting sparked four days of riots and violence that rocked Kenosha to its core. Barnes and Evers fired off incendiary, politically-driven messages that critics say stoked the flames of the Kenosha riots.
“Last night, Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times in front of his children. This wasn’t an accident,” Barnes tweeted. “The officer’s deadly actions attempted to take a person’s life in broad daylight. Like many of you, the video is burned into my mind like all the past videos just like it.”
“The irony is not lost on me that as Jacob Blake was trying to deescalate a fight in his community, the responding officer didn’t feel the need to do the same—and now we all know Jacob Blake’s name,” falsely Barnes added. As a lengthy outside investigation found, Blake escalated the tense situation after refusing to comply with the arresting officers’ instructions and reaching for a knife in his vehicle. The report found the officer acted in self-defense.
This didn’t start or end with George Floyd, and I would hate to see it not end with Jacob Blake—that’s why we need to respond. We know we cannot remedy the white supremacy and systemic racism that are built into our systems in a few years or with just this package of legislation.
— Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (@LGMandelaBarnes) August 24, 2020
The voters who support Barnes while expressing concern about rising crime should see the disconnect in Barnes’ rhetoric and record, as he goes about attacking the very people charged with trying to make Milwaukee a safer place.