Wisconsin Democrat Senate candidate slammed for mocking shooting victim

(John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File)

The U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin is shaping up to be a nail-biter, with incumbent Republican Ron Johnson holding a narrow but statistically significant lead in polling over Democrat Mandela Barnes. Gun control groups are already spending significant money on the race, with Everytown for Gun Safety trying to claim that Johnson has voted against funding for police departments; a claim that FactCheck.org recently called misleading, given that Johnson had actually voted against “trillion-dollar spending bills that included a host of measures, well beyond law enforcement funding.”

Republicans, meanwhile, are hitting back at Barnes for his rabid support for new gun control measures and his hostility towards Second Amendment supporters; even those who’ve been the victims of violent criminals.

Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) reelection campaign on Monday rolled out a new ad criticizing Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) for a tweet he sent out deriding Senate Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) after he was shot by a gunman in 2017 during practice for the Congressional Baseball Game.

In a digital ad shared first with The Hill, Johnson’s camp panned Barnes, his general election opponent, for tweeting that Scalise was “taking one for the team” with the 2017 incident.

“Mandela Barnes coddles criminals and mocks victims,” the ad’s narrator said, adding that Barnes “isn’t fit to be a senator.”

The ad fits squarely with the anti-crime narrative Johnson’s campaign and GOP outside groups have attempted to pin on Barnes, and it has helped fuel the incumbent senator’s rise in recent polls. According to eight polls of the race conducted over the past month, Johnson leads in six of them and is tied with Barnes in one other.

“I question how people vote against self interest but this is next level. He literally almost died on this hill,” Barnes added in the tweet.

I’m sure Barnes thinks of himself as incredibly open-minded, but his myopia when it comes to gun control is plain for all to see. In his view, unless you adopt his anti-gun ideology you must not care about violent crime; a ridiculous assertion in general and one that’s particularly asinine when it comes to Steve Scalise and other victims of crime who haven’t turned around and embraced the false promise of banning and infringing our way to safety.

As for Scalise, he was anxious to jump into the Senate battle on behalf of Johnson as he took part in a pair of radio interviews in the Badger State on Monday. When shown the tweet last week, the Louisiana lawmaker told Punchbowl News the remark was “disgraceful.”

“It says a lot more about his lack of character to be in essence condoning political violence,” he added.

I don’t think that Barnes was condoning violence with his comments as much as he was mocking the victim of a violent crime for not espousing support for anti-gun policies, though Scalise is of course entitled to his own interpretation.

Either way, it’s not a good look for Barnes heading into the final weeks of his campaign, and with the Democrat’s social media providing plenty of far-left fodder for Republicans to highlight in the days ahead, don’t be surprised if he goes looking for more help from deep-pocketed anti-gun outfits like Everytown for Gun Safety to try to keep him in the race down the home stretch… even if they have to mislead voters to do so.