RACINE — Wisconsin Avenue at Toad Hall was packed Tuesday afternoon with supporters for Mandela Barnes’ “Win for Wisconsin Tour.”
The morning started with breakfast in Milwaukee for the touring Lt. Governor and his team before they headed to Downtown Racine for the Racine Early Vote Event just after 3 p.m.
On the campaign bus with Barnes was Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Ann Roe, who is on the ballot for Congress this election.
Roe kicked off the event urging the crowd, “don’t be Wisconsin nice – go vote, and tell people who you’re voting for,” before introducing Sen. Baldwin.
Baldwin began by stating what she needs in Washington, to serve Wisconsin better.
“I need a partner who is focused on serving the public, rather than serving himself,” Baldwin said. “That partner is Mandela Barnes.”
Before introducing Barnes, Baldwin implored people to vote, citing that Wisconsin elections are so often “squeakers,” having a razor-thin margin. Some elections are won by as little as 20,000 votes for the entire state, which breaks down to 10 people per precinct.
Barnes was welcomed to the podium with cheers and applause as he began his speech, which continued the efforts that Sen. Baldwin had begun in her speech. Among the many issues Barnes commented on his opponent, Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), calling him “the worst senator we have had since Joe McCarthy.”
Barnes majored on the challenges facing today’s middle class, and how the middle class of yesteryear did not face the challenges that are present in present day. He also spoke of Johnson’s interest in the gun lobby over Wisconsin’s children as well as his opponent’s desire to raise the retirement age to 70.
“If you choose to work that long, go ahead. That’s fine, right? But nobody should be forced to work into their later years,” said Barnes.
“It’s only about the CEOs; it’s never about the working people. It’s all about the profits of businesses like his – his business, which hasn’t paid state income taxes since 2013.”
The Racine County Eye reached out to Ron Johnson’s office regarding the allegations of the unpaid state income taxes, but they did not respond.
Another talking point was the Jan. 6 insurrection. Barnes noted that Johnson called the people who infiltrated the Capitol building “tourists.”
The overturn of Roe v. Wade was also included in his speech. Barnes spoke of his support to work to overturn the 1849 criminal abortion ban, and not force Wisconsin women to go to Illinois to obtain one.
Next he spoke about the public education system in Wisconsin during the present administration. At the beginning, Wisconsin schools were ranked no. 18; they are now ranked no. 8.
“Our schools have gotten the largest increase in funding in the history of the state,” he said.
A clean energy plan, job creation and universal healthcare were all touched upon by Barnes.
“It’s our time to do the work that has to be done,” Barnes said.
Cory Booker introduced Barnes and spoke candidly about the diversity within the Racine crowd before talking about the need for a younger generation to become the country’s leaders.
“I look at Mandela and I know somebody that understands: You cannot lead the people if you don’t love the people,” he said.
Before recalling the events of the Jan. 6 insurrection as someone who was present, Booker highlighted the diversity of the American people once again.
“We are a multicultural democracy,” said Booker, “where people from all corners of humanity have come together and can show the world – be a light unto the nations – what we can accomplish together. It’s not the lines that divide us, it’s the ties that bind us.”
Booker called on everyone in attendance to encourage others to vote.
It’s about something more than just a ‘normal’ election in America. This is the time to say, “do you live in America, or do you live for America?” Because I need some folks to say, “I live for America.” I need some folks to stand up and say, “this election, I’m going to wake some people up to go vote for America.” This is one of those elections where we are going to put somebody in office who will fight for Americans. We’re going to get somebody elected that’s going to stand up and say, “I pledge allegiance to America.” We’re going to put somebody in office who swears to defend and protect the constitution of the United States. If you can do that, you will go down in history as the generation that didn’t just luxuriate the blessing of this democracy, but actually proved worthy of it.Sen. Cory Booker
The event ended with local organizers imploring the crowd to help the election efforts for Barnes.
The tour will be in Plattville, Janesville and Madison on Wednesday. Then on Thursday they will make appearances in Sheboygan, Oshkosh and West Allis, and will finish the week out in Madison and Milwaukee on Friday.
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