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Image: Wisconsin Democratic Candidates Hold Campaign Rally In Milwaukee
Mandela Barnes speaks during a campaign rally at the Washington Park Senior Center on Sept. 24, 2022 in Milwaukee.Scott Olson / Getty Images

Mandela Barnes launches ad targeting Ron Johnson on abortion

The ad is Barnes’ first ad of the race that directly attacks Johnson.


Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is launching his first negative ad of the Wisconsin Senate race Monday, targeting GOP Sen. Ron Johnson on abortion. 

“Johnson supported a ban on abortions,” a narrator says in the 30-second ad, shared first with NBC News. “He co-sponsored a bill that makes no exception for rape, incest or the life of a woman. And Johnson said if women don’t like it, they can move. The truth is it’s Ron Johnson who doesn’t belong in Wisconsin.”

The ad refers to Johnson co-sponsoring the “Life at Conception Act” in 2011 enshrining a “right to life or the right to life of each born and preborn human person” in the Constitution and allowing equal protections at “the moment of fertilization.”

The ad is part of a multimillion dollar campaign and will air on broadcast, cable and digital platforms throughout the state, per Barnes' campaign.

Barnes' campaign also sought to push back on a barrage of negative attacks, with the narrator starting the new ad by saying, “Ron Johnson has been caught lying."

"Independent fact checks call his attacks on Mandela Barnes false and misleading," the narrator says as quotes flash onscreen from a article on a Johnson attack focused on taxes. "But it’s Johnson’s views that are alarming.”

The negative ad also comes as Barnes has leaned into the issue of abortion in the race, launching a "Ron Against Roe" tour last week, a reference to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision the Supreme Court overturned earlier this year.

Barnes and Johnson are locked in a competitive race in a state Biden won by just less than 1 percentage point in 2020. The Cook Political Report rates the race a Toss up.