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Obama to campaign for Mandela Barnes in tough Wisconsin Senate race

The former president is also expected to help boost Gov. Tony Evers’ re-election efforts.
Former US President Barack Obama speaks during a ceremony for the unveiling of his official White House portrait in Washington, D.C., US, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. The portraits of Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, acquired and commissioned by the White House Historical Association, were painted by Robert McCurdy and Sharon Sprung, respectively.
Former President Barack Obama speaks at the White House, on Sept. 7, 2022.Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Former President Barack Obama is heading to Wisconsin later this month to help boost Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, a Democrat challenging GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, as well Gov. Tony Evers' re-election bid.

The joint event, set for Oct. 29 in Milwaukee, will also promote other Democrats on the November ballot, including Attorney General Josh Kaul and Rep. Gwen Moore. NBC News was first to report the news that Obama would campaign in Wisconsin.

“From restoring access to reproductive health care to defending democracy and Wisconsinites’ right to vote, the stakes couldn’t be higher,” the Wisconsin Democratic Party said in a statement on Friday.

The visit from Obama comes as both Barnes and Evers face tough battles against their Republican opponents. According to the latest polling averages from Real Clear Politics, Barnes trails Johnson by around 3 points while Evers is locked in a dead heat with challenger Tim Michels.

Democratic Senate candidate Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes
Democratic Senate candidate Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes speaks at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capital on July 23, 2022.Sara Stathas / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Barnes' campaign has been struggling of late, with some fellow Democrats expressing disappointment over the candidate's campaign messaging, particularly on crime.

"It’s been frustrating,” one of Barnes' primary opponents, Tom Nelson, said last week.

Barnes has faced an onslaught of ads from Republicans, attacking him on his crime message and painting him as too far to the left.

Obama's headlining a rally could inject some much-needed energy to the campaign. Obama broke the pattern of close elections in Wisconsin, decisively claiming the state in his 2008 and 2012 presidential runs.

A source told NBC News that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is also heading to Wisconsin to take part in a pair of events to help boost Barnes.

Representatives for Evers and Obama did not immediately return requests for comment. A Barnes spokeswoman had no comment.