Godlewski leaves Senate race, endorses Barnes

Her exit comes after two fellow Democrats suspended their campaigns earlier this week, clearing the way for Barnes in the primary

MADISON, Wis. — State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski has ended her Democratic primary bid for the U.S. Senate, throwing her support behind Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and all but ensuring his victory in the primary.

She cited the need to beat incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in her decision to leave.

“I started my campaign a little over a year ago with the intent of defeating Ron Johnson and I will tell you that has not changed except for how we are going to do it,” Godlewski said during a Friday news conference. “We have to get behind Mandela Barnes to defeat Ron Johnson.”

Barnes joined Godlewski at the news conference and thanked her for the endorsement. Both were elected to constitutional offices in the 2018 blue wave that saw Gov. Tony Evers defeat then-incumbent Scott Walker.

“As we campaigned together four years ago, and have served in office alongside each other, I’ve always admired your determination, your dedication to make the most out of any situation,” Barnes said.

“I’m proud to have either been in this race with you. I think ultimately it just made me a better candidate as we’ve grown over this last year,” he added.

This comes after two other high-profile Democrats dropped out of the race the same week — Bucks executive Alex Lasry and Outagamie County Exec. Tom Nelson. Both endorsed Barnes as they stepped out.

RELATED: Alex Lasry drops out of U.S. Senate primary race, endorses Mandela Barnes

“This week has demonstrated what it looks like when we come together for a goal that is greater than ourselves,” Barnes said in a statement Friday. “We are building a coalition that crosses generations, crosses racial divides and political divides.”

The same day Lasry suspended his campaign, Godlewski initially told reporters “there’s nothing new here” when asked if she would stay in the race.

In the wake of Friday’s news, Johnson was critical of the move by what he called “power brokers of the Democrat party,” saying in a tweet that the Democrats had “cleared the field for their most radical left candidate.”

Barnes faces a few other challengers, but none have polled significantly in the recent Marquette Law School polls.

Despite dropping out, Godlewski, Lasry and Nelson will remain on the ballot this August. Voters who have already cast absentee ballots for those candidates can still change their vote by contacting their clerks to “spoil” their ballots.