top of page

Our Wisconsin Revolution Just Endorsed Tom Nelson

A lot of well-intentioned out-of-state liberals jumped on the Mandela Barnes bandwagon early in the run-up to the Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary. That was a mistake. Barnes isn't particularly progressive, certainly not a fervent, fighting progressive and he rates low on any scale of political courage. and he's probably one of the less likely candidates who could win over non-Milwaukee/non-Madison voters in the life-or-death struggle to oust Ron Johnson. I wish some of the groups who backed Barnes early had waited to see how the race unfolded before jumping in.

As Lieutenant Governor, he did have some name recognition going for him but early warning signs that should have had liberals pumping the brakes were:

1- his dogged reluctance to back-- as in more than pay lip service to-- any core progressive policies or move beyond standard Democratic Party fare

2- giving over the running of his campaign to establishment DC insiders, always a very clear indication of how a careerist candidate like Barnes would behave as an incumbent desperate to hold onto a job

The race also features a wealthy, standard variety EMILY's List candidate with nothing to offer anyone outside the organization and their greed-driven consultants, that the group routinely backed the same way they backed losers Sara Gideon, Theresa Greenfield and MJ Hegar last cycle... and, of course, the EMILY's List mascot-gone-sour, Kyrsten Sinema in her odious career.

And then there's the son-of-a-billionaire trying to buy the seat and who will say anything at all to whichever audience he's talking to. He's flooding the airwaves with his father's money in the form of name recognition ads. And recent polling shows that low-info voters are buying into that.

OurWisconsinRevolution is anything but low-info and today they endorsed strongly pro-union progressive, former Bernie delegate Tom Nelson, the Outagamie County Executive and former Assembly majority leader. Andre Walton, Our Wisconsin Revolution Executive Director said this morning that "Our Wisconsin Revolution is proud to endorse Tom Nelson for the U.S. Senate. Tom fights tirelessly for working people and puts people before corporate profits. We know that just beating Ron Johnson is not enough, we need someone willing to challenge the billionaire class and corporate power. Tom can win back this Senate seat BECAUSE he’s true to a progressive vision, not in spite of this, as some other candidates might believe."

Holly Otterbein covered the endorsement for Politico this morning, noting, kind of cluelessly (Politico-style) that it could "help validate his claim that he is the true progressive in the race." She continued that "The nod is a sign that Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the Democratic frontrunner who is also running as a liberal, faces dissatisfaction from some progressive activists as he distances himself from the far left in advance of the general election. Sunrise Wisconsin, a left-wing organization of young people aiming to stop climate change, endorsed Nelson over Barnes as well." Far left? What's that? Someone who backs Medicare for All and the Green New Deal? These sleepwalking reporter-robots from Politico and The Hill really do a lot of damage to the quality of American politics.

“He has a strong stance on Medicare for All,” said Andre Walton, executive director of Our Wisconsin Revolution, of Nelson. “He is a very staunch ally for the labor movement, and his stance on environmental policy is extremely strong. He believes in the Green New Deal.”
...Barnes recently broke with President Joe Biden on immigration policy, saying that he disagreed with the administration’s plan to end the pandemic-era border restriction known as Title 42. Before it is lifted, he said “we need to have a plan in place to make sure we’re keeping asylum seekers and people in the U.S. safe.”
Barnes has also distanced himself from left-wing slogans to “abolish ICE” and “defund the police,” despite appearing open to them in the past. And while Barnes backs Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, he has not made them the central focus of his campaign.
...Nelson, the Outagamie County executive, received the support of nearly 78 percent of voting members of Our Wisconsin Revolution in a ranked-choice process.
“I am the proven progressive in this race. I have consistently championed economic, social and racial justice issues, so voters know exactly where I stand, unlike others in the race,” he said. “I’m the one who consistently champions these progressive issues like Medicare for All and Green New Deal. I’m the only one who opposes Title 42.”

Blue America endorsed Tom early on and you can contribute to his campaign here or on the thermometer on the left (unless you're a corporate lobbyist-- in which case you can't contribute to his campaign at all). We're looking for candidates who can win and unlike the DSCC, for example, who will also be excellent senators. What good is electing someone if they're going to be Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema once they get into office. I mean, nice that Schumer has a make-believe majority, but who does that help-- other than him-- when the Democrats can't get any of the policies voters trusted them to deliver? Behind closed doors Lasry assures the donor class they have nothing to worry about from him. Godlewski is a joke and Barnes... no political courage at all. How important is political courage? In the words of former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, "It’s fear that cripples the Democratic Party. Fear of our policies, fear of who we are, and fear of the Republicans. Yes, fear is what has politically cost us in the last many election cycles. One cannot lead if one is afraid. The thing about leadership is that people want their leaders to be brave. They care less about what you think on the issues than whether you have the moxie to fight for them and the strength of conviction to tell them what you really think."

1 Comment

I was one of those who within a day or two of Barnes announcing he was running for Johnson's Senate seat sent Barnes a donation. I had donated to him when he challenged Sen. Lena Taylor and during his Lt. Gov. run. But I follow elections as closely as anyone and I have become concerned he lacks to chops to defeat Ron Johnson at this time in his career anyway. He is not defending his positions, he is like jello vibrating depending on the most recent polling results to define his current position. Barnes all the sudden is lacking the courage of his convictions. Then Jim Clyburn endorsed Barnes and that was what turned me from his campaign for go…

bottom of page