The development capped a remarkable week for Barnes: On Monday, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson quit the contest and backed the lieutenant governor, while two days later, former Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry did the same. Following Lasry’s departure, Godlewski insisted she’d remain in the race, but despite self-funding $4 million, she trailed badly in the polls and had little chance of overtaking the frontrunner.
Barnes had spent a year battling this trio for the right to take on Sen. Ron Johnson, the most vulnerable Republican senator up for re-election in November. If he’s successful, he’d be the state’s first Black member of the Senate, a journey that would cap a swift rise over the last decade.
Barnes, now 35, first won office in 2012 by ousting a Democratic member of the state Assembly after castigating the incumbent for his support of school vouchers. He then ran for lieutenant governor in 2018, easily winning his own primary and then, as part of a ticket with Tony Evers, narrowly ousting Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his number two, Rebecca Kleefisch (who is now running against Evers for her old boss’s job).
Barnes’ toughest assignment remains ahead of him, however. Wisconsin is the very definition of a swing state, and Johnson, unlike most Republicans running for the Senate, has actually raised a legit amount—almost $18 million—and is also very rich. Barnes to date has brought in a much smaller $7 million, but his fundraising is sure to skyrocket now that the entire Democratic Party has rallied around him.
Lasry is also providing a gracious boost: The wealthy ex-candidate, who’d given his own campaign $15 million, still had $584,000 in paid-for but unused TV airtime after bowing out, so he decided to run a flight of ads hammering Johnson for outsourcing jobs.
Ultimately, far more will be spent on this race, which will be one of the most expensive in the country. But Barnes now gets a week-and-a-half head start for a critical three-month sprint that may determine whether Democrats retain control of the Senate.
In the Senate race, former Thiel Capital chief operating officer Blake Masters leads 36-21 over businessman Jim Lamon, with state Attorney General Mark Brnovich at 12%, which is an improvement for Masters over his 25-18 lead against Lamon in the same firm’s poll from earlier in July. For governor, they have Trump-endorsed former TV news anchor Kari Lake up 51-33 over Board of Regents member Karrin Taylor Robson, which is a big increase for Lake over her 39-31 edge earlier in July.
In the race for state attorney general, Trump-endorsed former Maricopa County prosecutor Abe Hamadeh leads 31-16 against Rodney Glassman, a former Democrat who lost the Maricopa County assessor GOP primary in 2020. For secretary of state, Trump-backed state Rep. Mark Finchem leads 32-11 over advertising executive Beau Lane, with state Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita at 9% and state Rep. Shawnna Bolick at 8%. Their prior poll earlier in July saw just a 14-6 Finchem lead over Ugenti-Rita with Lane at 5% and Bolick at 3%.
Meanwhile, a relatively new pollster called Alloy Analytics has also tested the GOP primary for governor, and their poll finds Lake ahead 45-35 over Robson. Alloy’s pollster Landon Wall says the survey had no sponsor and he paid for it himself.
● CO-Sen: The NRSC is spending $240,000 on a cable buy, which is a modest sum but marks their first foray into the contest here between Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet and businessman Joe O’Dea, his Republican challenger.
● IA-Sen, IA-01: Former GOP Rep. Jim Leach, who lost in the 2006 wave to former Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack after representing part of eastern Iowa in the House for 30 years, has announced he is switching parties to Democratic and endorsing retired Navy Vice Adm. Mike Franken for Senate and state Rep. Christina Bohannan in the 1st District. Leach said he was prompted to make the change in reaction to Jan. 6 and Republicans lying about the 2020 election results.
● MO-Sen: SurveyUSA has conducted a new survey for Gray Television’s several Missouri TV stations testing out the Aug. 2 primaries for both parties as well as several potential general election matchups.
On the GOP side, state Attorney General Eric Schmitt leads former Gov. Eric Greitens 28-20 with Rep. Vicky Hartzler at 13% and fellow Rep. Billy Long at just 8%. On the Democratic side, wealthy philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine leads Marine veteran Lucas Kunce 40-14.
Looking ahead to November, SurveyUSA has matched up the top three Republicans against each Democrat along with former U.S. Attorney John Wood, a Republican-turned-independent who launched his campaign in June and has benefited from a $5 million ad blitz from an allied super PAC:
Eric Schmitt (R): 37, Lucas Kunce (D): 27, John Wood (I): 10; Schmitt (R): 36, Trudy Busch Valentine (D): 30, Wood (I): 9
Vicky Hartzler (R): 34, Kunce (D): 25, Wood (I): 12; Hartzler (R): 32, Valentine (D): 31, Wood (I): 9
Eric Greitens (R): 31, Kunce (D): 26, Wood (I): 12; Greitens (R): 31, Valentine (D): 31, Wood (I): 13
● Senate: A huge pile of polls surfaced on Friday, so we’re rounding all of them up below:
AZ-Sen: Beacon Research (D) for the Environmental Voter Project: Mark Kelly (D-inc): 50, Jim Lamon (R): 40; Kelly (D-inc): 51, Mark Brnovich (R): 40; Kelly (D-inc): 51, Blake Masters (R): 39
GA-Sen: Beacon Research (D) for the Environmental Voter Project: Raphael Warnock (D-inc): 48, Herschel Walker (R): 43
GA-Sen: Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) for Fox News: Warnock (D-inc): 46, Walker (R): 42
GA-Sen: InsiderAdvantage (R) for Fox 5 Atlanta: Warnock (D-inc): 48, Walker (R): 45, Chase Oliver (L): 3
GA-Sen: PEM Management Corporation for conservative John Bolton super PAC: Walker (R): 46, Warnock (D-inc): 42
NC-Sen: PEM Management Corporation for conservative John Bolton super PAC: Cheri Beasley (D): 43, Ted Budd (R): 40
NV-Sen: Beacon Research (D) for the Environmental Voter Project: Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): 51, Adam Laxalt (R): 45
OH-Sen: PEM Management Corporation for conservative John Bolton super PAC: Tim Ryan (D): 44, J.D. Vance (R): 38
PA-Sen: Beacon Research (D) for the Environmental Voter Project: John Fetterman (D): 50, Mehmet Oz (R): 39
PA-Sen: Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) for Fox News: Fetterman (D): 47, Oz (R): 36
PA-Sen: PEM Management Corporation for conservative John Bolton super PAC: Fetterman (D): 44, Oz (R): 38
Notably, PEM’s surveys for former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s super PAC each had just 300 respondents, which is the bare minimum that Daily Kos Elections requires for inclusion in the Digest.
● WI-Gov: Mike Pence has endorsed former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch ahead of the Aug. 9 GOP primary, setting up another proxy fight between the former vice president and Donald Trump, who had previously backed wealthy businessman Tim Michels.
● Governors: Several new polls also dropped on Friday in key governor’s races:
AZ-Gov: Beacon Research (D) for the Environmental Voter Project: Katie Hobbs (D): 48, Karrin Taylor Robson (R): 40; Hobbs (D): 49, Kari Lake (R): 40
GA-Gov: Beacon Research (D) for the Environmental Voter Project: Brian Kemp (R-inc): 51, Stacey Abrams (D): 43
GA-Gov: Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) for Fox News: Kemp (R-inc): 47, Abrams (D): 44
GA-Gov: InsiderAdvantage (R) for Fox 5 Atlanta: Kemp (R-inc): 49, Abrams (D): 44, Shane Hazel (L): 3
NV-Gov: Beacon Research (D) for the Environmental Voter Project: Steve Sisolak (D-inc): 48, Joe Lombardo (R): 46
PA-Gov: Beacon Research (D) for the Environmental Voter Project: Josh Shapiro (D): 52, Doug Mastriano (R): 39
PA-Gov: Beacon Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) for Fox News: Shapiro (D): 50, Mastriano (R): 40
● FL-13: Attorney Kevin Hayslett has released an internal poll from American Viewpoint finding him surging into just a 36-34 deficit against 2020 candidate Anna Paulina Luna in the Aug. 23 GOP primary, while 2020 nominee Amanda Makki takes just 9%. Hayslett’s campaign disclosed that a previously unreleased June poll had Luna up by a hefty 42-19 with Makki at 13% to argue that he has momentum. This release comes just a few weeks after a Tyson Group survey from early July for the state GOP had found Luna ahead of Hayslett 37-17 with Makki at 10%.
● OK-02: The Club for Growth-backed School Freedom Fund has recently dropped a combined $1.1 million on a TV and mail ad campaign backing former state Sen. Josh Brecheen and opposing state Rep. Avery Frix in advance of the Aug. 23 Republican primary runoff, though no ad copies are available yet.
Dollar amounts reflect the reported size of ad buys and may be larger.