Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes said on Wednesday he has no use for crossover voters who voted for Trump.
“It’s not just about the Obama-Trump voters,” Barnes told the audience at the Wisconsin’s Choice Issues Forum in Milwaukee. “If they voted for Trump and they’re still with him, they can keep ‘em.”
Barnes added that the campaign was seeking the votes from those who voted for President Barack Obama but did not vote in 2016.
His running mate, gubernatorial candidate and superintendent of public instruction Tony Evers, was seated next to Barnes but did not contradict him. Instead, Evers nodded along as Barnes spoke.
Evers praised his running mate after Barnes finished speaking.
“I tell you. Mandela Barnes is going to be the best lieutenant governor in the state of Wisconsin,” Evers said.
The Barnes statement dismissing Obama-Trump voters reminded some on social media of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton dismissing supporters of Donald Trump for president in 2016 as, “a basket of deplorables.”
“You could put half of Trump’s supporters in what I call a basket of deplorables,” Clinton said at the time. “They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.”
The Evers campaign promised a statement to explain what Barnes meant, but no statement was received at press time.
Republicans were sharply critical of Barnes’ statement.
“The outrageous remarks from the Evers campaign are insulting to millions of hard-working Wisconsinites and speak volumes about his priorities,” said Alec Zimmerman, the Communications Director for the Republican Party of Wisconsin. “By their own admission, Tony and his running mate are running a campaign of division and anger that seeks to abandon large swaths of our family, friends, and neighbors throughout Wisconsin.”
Ironically, Evers sounded a completely different tone the night he won his party’s nomination.
“The people of Wisconsin are tired of Scott Walker’s politics — the politics of division,” Evers told the Wisconsin State Journal. “We’re going to hold him accountable.”
It’s unknown if Evers plans on holding Barnes accountable for his statement.