State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski dropped out of the Democratic US Senate primary Friday, clearing the field of major contenders for the party’s presumptive nominee, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.
Barnes will face Republican US Sen. Ron Johnson in November. If elected, Barnes would be the state’s first Black senator.
Godlewski was the third top-tier candidate to withdraw in the last five days, following the exits of Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson. The primary is Aug .9.
In a statement, Godlewski announced she had suspended her campaign and endorsed Barnes. A news conference with Godlewski and Barnes is scheduled for later Friday.
Godlewski had notified Barnes of her decision in a telephone call late Thursday.
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“Over a year ago, we launched this campaign to defeat Ron Johnson and return this Senate seat to the people of Wisconsin,” Godlewski said in a statement. “I stepped up because, too often, Washington overlooks so many of the challenges working families face — from affordable child care and senior care to paid family leave to prescription drug costs to reproductive freedom. I believed we needed more working moms at the US Senate table who would fight like hell to make these issues a priority — I still do.”
She added: “It’s clear that if we want to finally send Ron Johnson packing, we must all get behind Mandela Barnes and fight together.”
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In a statement, Barnes said he was “honored” to gain the endorsement and praised Godlewski as a “leader in the fight to protect abortion access and a tireless advocate for working people and rural communities across Wisconsin.”
“We are in a stronger position than we have ever been to defeat Ron Johnson once and for all,” Barnes continued. “And it’s because this is bigger than any one of us. This is about retiring a Senator who has left working people in the dust for more than a decade while he doubled his own personal wealth and delivered for his wealthy donors,” Barnes added.
Godlewski poured her time, talent and wealth into the race, putting nearly $4.1 million of her own money into the campaign.
In fact, federal records show that in the past week, Godlewski pumped another $475,000 into the campaign from his own pocket, including $275,000 on Tuesday.
She got a boost early on by gaining the endorsement of EMILY’s List, which backs women candidates who support abortion rights.
But her early fundraising was underwhelming and she reset her staff early on.
She also dealt with disclosures that she owed and paid no state income tax for two years, couldn’t provide documentation that she saved taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars” while working as a Pentagon contractor, and didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election despite working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in Wisconsin.
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Godlewski also had to acknowledge that she did not have a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, despite a news story, a wedding announcement and a Wikipedia biography that said she did.
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Godlewski appeared to get a second wind in the race, cutting a well-received TV ad outside the US Supreme Court.
But then her campaign inexplicably went off the air for eight of the nine weeks during June and July. Last week, Her campaign made a seven-figure media buy to put up TV commercials across the state focusing on her stance on abortion.
The gloves came off quickly for the general election, with Johnson and Barnes trading Twitter barbs.
Johnson tweeted: ‘Showing their lack of respect for voters and the democratic process, the power brokers of the Democrat party have now cleared the field for their most radical left candidate. Socialist policies have produced this mess, & a radical left Senator from Wisconsin is not the solution.’
Barnes responded: ‘I won’t be lectured about respecting voters by a pro-insurrectionist Senator.’