Mandela Barnes to become Wisconsin's first black lieutenant governor

In this Aug. 15, 2018, photo, Wisconsin Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Mandela Barnes, left, and governor candidate Tony Evers speak to reporters at a news conference in Madison, Wis. Barnes is also shaking up the governor's race in a way rarely done by a running mate in Wisconsin. He is looking to become the state's first black lieutenant governor and only the second black person elected to statewide office.(Michelle Stocker/The Capital Times via AP)

MADISON (WLUK) -- As he walked toward the podium with Governor-elect Tony Evers, Mandela Barnes achieved what no other black person ever has in Wisconsin -- becoming the first black lieutenant governor.

"This is so exciting. This is so exciting," said Barnes.

He is a former state representative from Milwaukee.

He also becomes only the third black person to hold statewide office and only the second black person to be elected to statewide office.

Political science professor Aaron Weinschenk said Barnes' achievement holds meaning.

"It's like a symbolic thing. Like, it can be really important for a group to see somebody who looks like them be elected so I think there's like a real importance to it," Weinschenk said.

After Tuesday night's democratic win, one supporter shared his thoughts on Barnes.

"Mandela Barnes is a friend of mine. We're peers, we're the same age and yet I look up to him so much. There are so many kids who are going to think differently about their state, about their representation," said Mo Cheeks of Madison.

Thirty-one-year-old Barnes will become the second black person elected to statewide office.

Vel Phillips was the first. She was elected secretary of state in 1978.

In 2004, Louis Butler was the first black person appointed justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

A day after the election, Barnes posted on social media and said, "This has been the most amazing journey of my life! So many people said it couldn't happen. We stayed the course and continued to lead with a positive vision for Wisconsin. This race came down to the wire, and we made history. Now it's time to make a difference. Thank you!"



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