Dems Win Midterms; Barnes Defeated by Racist Ads

Democrats in Wisconsin and across the country are celebrating the results of the midterm elections. After hearing dire predictions for months, Democratic candidates won an historically high number of contested offices in a midterm election, bucking the longstanding trend of voters turning against the party occupying the White House.

Wisconsin Democrats earned wins for Governor Tony Evers/Lieutenant Governor Sara Rodriguez and Attorney General Josh Kaul, with apparent victories by Secretary of State Doug La Follette and La Crosse County Sheriff candidate John Siegel.  Brad Pfaff, whom the Republicans expected to trounce, turned in a strong performance, getting 48% of the vote in his 3rd Congressional District race against insurrectionist Derrick van Orden.

Mandela Barnes lost an extremely close race to incumbent Senator Ron Johnson—see Ben Wikler’s analysis below.

Nationwide, the predicted red wave simply did not happen. Democrats will again control the US Senate;  their bid for retaining control of the House is still alive, although likely to fall just short. This is an outstanding performance given the history cited above.


Here is DPW Chair Ben Wikler’s response to the election results:

Dear fellow Wisconsin Democrats,  

Wow. We did it. You, Tony Evers, all of us—we did it.  

We can finally exhale.  

Governor Evers won a second term, now joined by Sara Rodriguez. Dems in the State Legislature blocked the GOP’s quest for supermajorities in the State Legislature, and the Governor’s veto pen is intact. 

Against overwhelming odds, the path to democracy in Wisconsin survived. 

Mandela Barnes, written off as doomed by national observers, soared above the polls and came within one percentage point of defeating Ron Johnson—in a year when, it appears, every single incumbent senator in both parties will win re-election, and after three self-serving billionaires poured $29 million into some of the most vicious, racist attack ads our state has ever seen. It’s wrenching to fall just short—but Mandela surged in the final weeks, and did better than experts thought possible.  

In fact, experts underestimated Wisconsin Democrats’ strength across the board this year.  

The last time a Democrat won a governor’s race in our state during a Democratic presidency was sixty years ago, by a single percentage point. Governor Evers and Lt. Governor Rodriguez won by 3.4%. Attorney General Josh Kaul and Secretary of State Doug La Follette won statewide as well. Ask any political scientist: in 50-50 Wisconsin, where midterms nearly always swing against the president’s party, these things aren’t supposed to happen.  

There are many reasons why this came to pass. Republicans ripped away a basic freedom—the power to make decisions over one’s own body—and threatened many more. The GOP’s open hostility to democracy galvanized a counterreaction. Our candidates lived their values, which matched Wisconsin’s values. 

———————————————————————————————   Many thanks to each and every volunteer who knocked doors, made phonecalls, or texted to make sure that we got out the vote. And thanks to all DPW Field Staff who put in a lot of hard work to help make these victories possible!

Here’s to victory in Wisconsin’s Spring 2023 Supreme Court Justice election!




How to Register and Vote at the Polls on Election Day—Tell Your Friends

This is how we as Democrats Win the Mid-Terms on November 8th!

Can I vote even if I haven’t registered by Election Day? Yes!

Who needs to register? Anyone who’s never voted; anyone who hasn’t voted in several years; anyone who’s changed addresses since the last time they voted

How do we register? You bring to the polls a utility bill with your current address on it.

How do we qualify to vote? You need a WI Driver’s License, a DMV Photo ID, a passport, or other government-issued document.

How do I find out where to vote? Go to, or call the League of Women Voters non-partisan Wisconsin Voter Helpline at 608-285-2141. Also, if you are uncertain about anything regarding registering or voting, these two resources are extremely helpful.

What hours are the polls open?  7AM to 8 PM.

How do I help elect progressive Democrats instead of anti-democracy Republicans?

  1. Talk to your friends and family to be sure that they vote.
  2. Volunteer: There are so many ways you can do your part, including going door-to-door, making phonecalls, and texting. 

To sign up, contact field organizer Ailey Brumley using this link:

Will my one vote really matter? Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler:     “The Governor’s race is statistically tied: Governor Evers is 0.4% up against Michels in the fivethirtyeight polling average. The Senate race is statistically tied—the latest CNN poll has Barnes down a single point against Ron Johnson. From everything we can see, the other statewide races—from Attorney General on down—are statistically tied as well.”

What’s at stake?   “I want to be crystal clear about what’s on the ballot this year. Your right to choose is on the ballot. Your Social Security — that you paid for. The safety of your kids from gun violence. The survival of our planet. Your right to vote. Even our democracy is on the ballot.”– President Joe Biden

Saving democracy is a task for all of us. Mid-term elections are decided by who turns out and who stays home. Now is the time to act!!

Work Needed: Dems’ Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler’s Open Letter

Dear fellow Wisconsin Democrats,  It’s time to cancel everything and go knock on doors.

With 18 days to go, we’re in a statistical dead heat in our statewide elections—and a red alert in the fight against Republican supermajorities in the state legislature. That means it’s time to pull out all the stops. How many volunteer shifts can you complete before the polls close? How many voters can you talk to? Find your local canvass launches—they’re happening everywhere, every week, now through November 8—and sign up at this link!

Every time I’ve knocked on doors this fall, I’ve found at least one voter who either wasn’t sure if they’d vote or wasn’t sure whom they’d vote for—but by the end of the conversation, committed to voting for Democrats.

If everyone receiving this email completes three volunteer shifts between now and Election Day and convinces one voter per shift, we’ll win more votes than the statewide margin of victory in the 2018 Governor’s race, or the 2020 presidential race, or the 2016 presidential race, or the 2019 state Supreme Court race. (And that list goes on and on.) 

There’s a lot that will happen between now and Election Day that we can’t control. We can’t control the global economy for the next 18 days. We can’t control gas prices for the next 18 days. We can’t control the weather for the next 18 days. But we can decide how we use our time.

And this is the time to do everything we can to bring victories in November.

While you’re driving to your nearest Democratic Party of Wisconsin canvass launch to knock on doors for Evers, Barnes, Kaul, and the other Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, listen to the newest episode of The Run-Up, a podcast by the New York Times. It’s about the impact of gerrymandering and Republican attacks on democracy in Wisconsin.

It’s not easy listening. But at the end of the episode, it makes a critical point.

We don’t live in a functioning democracy at this moment. But there’s a path to creating one. If we win the governorship, if we prevent GOP supermajorities, and if we win the majority on the state Supreme Court next spring, there’s a path to true democracy in Wisconsin. It doesn’t mention it in the podcast, but there’s another path as well: if we hold the House and expand the Democratic Senate majority by two seats—a goal that absolutely requires a victory for Mandela Barnes—then we could pass national pro-democracy legislation that would end partisan gerrymandering and bring full voting rights to our state and every other.

There is hope. There is peril. It’s all on the line. We have 18 days to do everything we can.

Choose hope.

In solidarity,



Evers, Barnes Stand Strong Against GOP/MAGA Extremism

by Ben Wikler, Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin

Tim Michels’ Radical Abortion Position Crosses the Line


In audio released this week from a 2004 WPR interview, Tim Michels said he supports forcing a 12-year-old rape victim to give birth, and would tell her her pregnancy was “created by god.” Michels has supported a restrictive, no-exception abortion policy for decades, and this year called the 1849 law that includes no exceptions for rape or incest an “exact mirror” of his position and said he will not “soften” his stance.


It’s clear that Tim Michels will not defend bodily autonomy or fight to restore reproductive freedom in Wisconsin. His comments about abortion throughout his political career are not only radical, but cruel and out-of-line. Governor Evers is the only pro-choice candidate running for governor and will continue to fight Wisconsin’s 1849 criminal abortion ban and do the right thing to restore reproductive freedom in our state.


Lt. Gov. Barnes Dominates Debates Against Self-Serving Ron Johnson


During two debates over two weeks, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes demonstrated that he is the only candidate in the race for U.S. Senate who will serve Wisconsin. Ron Johnson is in Washington focused on his self-serving agenda, securing tax breaks for his biggest donors, threatening to cut Social Security and Medicare, and refusing to fight for Wisconsin jobs.


Lt. Gov. Barnes forcefully called out Johnson’s callous support for an abortion ban without exceptions for rape or incest, his efforts to overturn the will of the people on January 6, and his record of enriching himself and his donors at the expense of Wisconsin taxpayers while reminding Wisconsinites that he will fight to codify Roe v. Wade as federal law, pass the Freedom to Vote Act, rebuild the middle class, and bring manufacturing jobs back home.


VOLUNTEER to Re-Elect Gov. Tony Evers and

Elect the Democratic Ticket

You don’t want to watch the Election Night returns and see awful GOP candidates getting elected. There are so many ways you can do your part to prevent this, including going door-to-door, making phonecalls, and texting. 

To sign up, contact field organizer Ailey Brumley using this link:

Barnes Connects, Johnson Evades, in First Debate

In their first televised debate, on October 7, the contrast could not have been clearer between Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes and Senator Ron Johnson. Barnes’ campaign is based on his life experiences; Johnson’s is based on extreme ideology, coupled with money from the gun lobby and the fossil fuel industry.

Johnson refused to answer the question on taking action against climate change, even saying that the EPA should stop trying to regulate CO2. When asked what the minimum wage should be, he did not answer.  He claimed to believe that Social Security is an entitlement, but continued to insist that its funding be reviewed each year.  And on reproductive rights issues, he offered praise for the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade; he refused to answer the question on how he will vote on the Respect for Marriage Act that would protect same-sex and interracial marriages.

Barnes talked to us, not at us, and drew on his life experience. He made clear that he will vote to codify Roe v. Wade, and to protect same-sex marriage. He asked us to remember that 140 police officers were injured on January 6, in contrast to comments by Johnson, who once referred to the insurrectionists as “patriots”. And he supports action against fossil fuel over-consumption, and supports the $15 an hour minimum wage.

Barnes offered practical solutions to our most serious problems. Johnson can run, but he can’t hide his record.

Other Campaign News (by Ben Wikler, Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Democratic Party)

Gov. Evers’ Promotes Abortion Rights Referendum; Barnes, Pfaff Go on Offense Against Dangerous Opponents


On September 30, Lieutenant Governor Nominee Sara Rodriguez, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and State Senator Kelda Roys came together to support Gov. Evers’ Special Session to restore abortion access in Wisconsin and highlighted the importance of following the will of the people – who overwhelmingly oppose the radical 1849 criminal ban.

Tim Michels has been silent on Gov. Evers’ special session, but that’s no surprise. Michels has previously called the 1849 criminal abortion ban an “exact mirror” of his position and has proudly bragged about how deeply “unpopular” his agenda is with Wisconsinites.

Meanwhile, Republicans in the State Legislature have already reasserted their extreme anti-choice agenda and promised to reject Gov. Evers’ Special Session next Tuesday.

Rep. Rodriguez, Treasurer Godlewski, and Sen. Roys decried Republicans’ out-of-touch agenda and encouraged Wisconsinites to call their legislators to tell them to support Gov. Evers’ proposal.


Mandela Barnes Launches Statewide Tour, Holds Ron Johnson Accountable on Dangerous Abortion Record


On September 30, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes announced the “Ron Against Roe” tour to hold Ron Johnson accountable for his record of working to rip away Wisconsinites’ ability to access abortion by co-sponsoring eight national abortion bans during his time in the Senate and confirming judges that are staunchly opposed to reproductive freedom, including abortion and contraception access.


Lt. Gov. Barnes is committed to enshrining Roe v. Wade as federal law and believes that lawmakers should not interfere with personal medical decisions that should be made between an individual and their doctor. The Ron Against Roe tour provide a stark contrast between Ron Johnson’s dangerous record on abortion and Lt. Gov. Barnes’ commitment to protecting reproductive health care.


Retirees Call Out Ron Johnson for Threatening To Cut Social Security


On Monday, ahead of Ron Johnson’s weekend visit to their city, La Crosse retirees held a press conference calling Johnson out for threatening to cut Social Security and putting tens of thousands of Wisconsin seniors at risk of losing their livelihood.


Ron Johnson has called Social Security a “Ponzi Scheme,” even going as far as to suggest raising the retirement age, and calling for Social Security to be put on the chopping block every single year. Wisconsin retirees made clear that they’re done with Johnson’s threats to Social Security and are ready to retire him this November,


Derrick Dodges Debates: Derrick Van Orden Hides from Radical Record, Refuses To Debate Sen. Brad Pfaff


In the 3rd Congressional District, Republican Derrick Van Orden is hiding from voters, refusing to debate State Sen. Brad Pfaff and answer for his radical record.


It makes sense that Van Orden would be afraid to get on a debate stage next to Sen. Pfaff. Sen. Pfaff has deep roots in La Crosse County and understands the challenges that farmers in the region face. An anti-choice insurrectionist, Van Orden is wildly out of touch with the issues that matter most to western Wisconsin while Sen. Pfaff is uniquely qualified to serve the 3rd District in Congress.