Mandela Barnes

40 under 40-2021 Mandela Barnes
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela BarnesDylan Buell—Getty Images for VIBE
  • Age
  • Title
    Lt. Gov. of Wisconsin
  • Company
    State of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the first Black lieutenant governor in the state’s history, could soon become Wisconsin’s first Black U.S. Senator. The 34-year-old Democrat has joined a crowded Democratic primary to take on Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who has been plagued by scandal. Barnes, who was born and raised in Milwaukee, has long played a central role in the state’s politics. After working on local political campaigns and in the office of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, as well as for progressive organizations, Barnes successfully ran for Wisconsin State Assembly at the age of 27; by 32, he was running for lieutenant governor. As a young, progressive Democrat who also has strong ties to the more centrist Democratic National Committee, Barnes is seen as a rising star in the party. President Biden took Wisconsin by just 20,000 votes in 2020—which means Barnes, who is well acquainted with the dynamics of the state, could play a pivotal role in deciding the 2024 presidential elections.