This Democratic Candidate Actually Had To Confirm He Is Alive & Running
All politicians running for elected office have a hard time getting their name out there — especially in their first statewide race. But Mandela Barnes, who is running in the Wisconsin Democratic primary election for lieutenant governor, has it harder than most. Wisconsinites go to the polls Tuesday, Aug. 14, and some voters may think he's not running at best — or, at worst, dead.
That may sound unbelievable, but it's for good reason. First, several newspapers in the state left him off their election notices completely, and then, on the eve of the election, a local news channel showed Barnes' picture during a report on a fatal accident that he was not involved in. The Mandela for Wisconsin campaign tells Bustle that the mix-up could confuse viewers into thinking Barnes was killed.
He wasn't, and Barnes is in fact running — two points that he has tried to make on social media in recent days in the run-up to the primary election. "I get it, being a 31 year old statewide candidate of color may be rare, but apparently I'm invisible in at least 3 different election notices," Barnes wrote on Twitter.
Barnes, a community organizer and former state representative from Milwaukee, is running against businessman Kurt Kober. Barnes' platform focuses on equity in health care, strong public schools, environmental protection, and a fair economy powered by a "green New Deal," the Mandela for Wisconsin campaign tells Bustle.
The first newspaper snafu — of his name being left off election notices — was brought to light on Sunday when his Twitter account pointed out The Lakeland Times had left him off. Then on Monday, The Kenosha News did the same thing, and the campaign went to Facebook to check if there were any other instances across the state.
"This is getting ridiculous," the campaign's Facebook posted. "First Oneida County, now Kenosha. This image is from The Kenosha News' election announcement. Notice that Mandela's name is completely missing." They included in the announcement a call for supporters to publish other instances where they found Barnes omitted.
According to Madison 365, his name was also omitted from The Rhinelander Daily News. All daily papers have already printed a corrected version, though, and the sample ballots that were printed did include Barnes.
Oneida County Clerk Tracy Hartman told Madison 365 that it was due to a clerical error. In the case of The Kenosha News, editors were not sure whether the paper or county clerk's office was responsible for the error.
"While I certainly understand that honest mistakes can happen, I find it troubling that it happened twice to the same candidate," Barnes said in a statement given to Madison 365. "I want to assure voters across the state that I, Mandela Barnes, am in fact running for Lieutenant Governor and would greatly appreciate your support."
The other error leading to a drama in the days leading up to Tuesday's primary vote was a bit of confusing editing on Milwaukee’s CBS58 newscast, in which Barnes' photo was shown as a newscaster spoke about a deadly vehicle accident. Bustle reached out to CBS58 for comment. "After the election notice madness, @CBS58 just tried to just kill me off completely," Barnes' Twitter account wrote with the flustered emoji.
The campaign tells Bustle that they did have worried supporters call in to make sure that Barnes was OK.
"All publicity is good publicity," the saying goes, but when you're running for office, the voters need to know you are actually running... and alive.