Mandela Barnes back in 2016 when he was State Rep. Mandela Barnes. (Madison365 photo)

Wisconsin Rep. Mandela Barnes has announced that he is challenging fellow Milwaukee Democrat Lena Taylor for her Senate seat.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve my neighbors as a community organizer and as a State Representative over the past several years,” Barnes said in a statement released this morning. “After much deliberation, guidance, and encouragement, I am seeking the support of people in Wisconsin’s 4th State Senate District – who deserve new leadership that they can trust – to serve as their State Senator.

“I have worked to make our neighborhoods safe, secure, and more vibrant places to live, so that our children and families have the best chance to sustain and succeed,” he added. “Unfortunately, Governor Walker, the Republican controlled Legislature, and politics-as-usual in the Milwaukee area have stood in the way of true progress for our neighborhoods.”

Barnes has worked for various political campaigns and in the office of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett before becoming the director of Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), an interfaith, social justice-based community organization. MICAH is comprised of over 30 congregations mainly in the inner-city, but including surrounding areas. Barnes has a strong history of community organizing in the 11th state assembly district, which covers the northeast corner of the city of Milwaukee and half of the city of Glendale.

“Now, more than ever, we need fresh, transformational leadership with a vision to not only address our serious challenges, but also unlock our untapped potential,” Barnes said. “As State Senator, I will fight for a vision that ensures the best public education for our children, curbs the tragic and senseless epidemic of gun violence, and builds ladders of opportunity for our neighbors to thrive and succeed in life.

“Over the next several months, I look forward to talking with families about their values and priorities as I work to earn their trust and support for State Senator,” he added.

It’s unusual for Democratic senators to face primary challenges which last happened in 2010, when Chris Larson beat Jeff Plale for a Milwaukee Senate seat. Barnes was elected to the Assembly in 2012. Taylor was elected to the Assembly in 2003 and the Senate in 2004.