Mandela Barnes, the Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate, was slammed as “dangerous” in a new $1.2 million advertising blitz launched by Republicans on Friday, which highlights his support for eliminating the cash bail system in the United States.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee ad campaign comes as Barnes, an outspoken progressive and the state’s lieutenant governor, has sought to rebrand himself as more moderate in his competitive race against Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.
The NRSC told the Washington Free Beacon that the ad is part of a $1.2 million ad buy that will run online and on TV.
The ad links far-left bail policies with the horrific Christmas Parade massacre in Waukesha, Wisconsin last year, when a repeat felon released on low bail plowed his car through crowds of pedestrians, killing six and injuring dozens more.
Barnes largely avoided attacks on his political record during the Democratic primary but attacks have ramped up on his criticism of law enforcement, far-left economic policies, and personal issues such as his tax delinquency as the November race nears.
“What happens when criminals are released because bail is set dangerously low?” asks the ad, before showing news clips from the attack.
“Mandela Barnes wants to end cash bail, completely. He wrote the bill. Barnes still wants to end cash bail. Today.”
Barnes has been a long-time champion for ending cash bail in Wisconsin and nationally.
While serving in the state assembly, Barnes introduced legislation in 2016 to end “monetary bail as a condition of release” for criminal defendants, and to prohibit judges from detaining defendants based on the “nature, number and gravity” of the charges, the Free Beacon reported last December. His campaign said in February that he supports ending cash bail nationally.
Over the past decade, Barnes has built a reputation as a progressive firebrand in state politics, partnering with “defund the police” groups, promoting a movement to “Abolish ICE” and advocating for softer policies on crime.
But in the past few months he has sought to moderate his image and distance himself from unpopular Democratic leaders, as he works to appeal to rural and suburban voters. Barnes declined to say if he will attend an event in Milwaukee on Monday with President Joe Biden, who has a 40 percent approval rating in the state.
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