Candidates for Senate

Mandela Barnes

1.

Q: What motivated you to run for this office?

A: My path here is far different than most. I was born in Milwaukee, in one of the most impoverished and incarcerated zip codes in the country, 53206. But I was fortunate…my parents both had good union jobs. My dad worked 3rd shift at the General Motors factory. My mom was a public-school teacher. Those jobs were their ticket into the middle class and opened doors of opportunity for me to work hard and achieve success.

Yet for so many people across Wisconsin and across the country today - those same opportunities no longer exist. Those pathways into the middle class are closed off - whether by the cost of health care, the lack of good paying jobs, or an education system that doesn’t prepare them for the futures they deserve.

 

I’m running for the U.S. Senate to expand opportunities for the middle class and to give every Wisconsinite a fair shot at the American Dream.

 

I have spent my entire career fighting to create these opportunities for every family. Whether as an interfaith organizer taking on issues of economic and social justice, as a State Representative fighting back against Scott Walker’s anti-worker power grab, or as Wisconsin’s first Black Lt.Governor, tackling the climate crisis head on as the Chair of Wisconsin’s Climate Change Task Force.

2.

Q: What relevant experience do you have for this position?

A: It comes down to my lived experience and my decade-long record of serving Wisconsin.

We deserve a Senator who understands our struggles firsthand and can authentically connect with middle class and working class people across the state. I was born and raised in the middle class. I know the struggles of working people because I share those struggles. And I connect with people in every corner of the state because though our lives may look a little different, our struggles are the same. That’s what this race will come down to. It’s not about Red vs. Blue, or rural vs. urban. It’s about who has been on the top and who's been left on the bottom. Voters know that I may not have millions in personal wealth or the backing of corporate PACs, but what I do have is skin in the game. Because the people Ron Johnson has left behind are my family, my community, and my neighbors.

 

And I’ve spent the last ten years fighting for them. First as an organizer in Milwaukee, then in the legislature and as Lt. Governor. I didn’t get where I am by accident – I got here with hard work, grit, and determination. I’m proud to be endorsed by over 140 state and local elected officials in every corner of Wisconsin, a coalition of family farmers, and unions including SEIU Wisconsin State Council, AFSCME Council 32, AFT Local 212, and IBEW Local 2150. That’s a direct result of the decade I have spent building trust and credibility across the state.

3.

Q:  What are your highest priorities when elected?

A: It all comes down to rebuilding the middle class. I wouldn’t be here today without my parents’ good-paying union jobs. That was our ticket to the middle class. But those same opportunities just aren’t available to us today.

In the Senate, I’ll fight to bring manufacturing jobs back home to Wisconsin and address corporate greed that has squeezed our small businesses and family farmers out to the tune of one family farmer a day. When we build things here, we’re less vulnerable to supply chain issues and inflation. I’ll also get big money out of politics and bring accountability back to our government.

And we need to abolish the filibuster to protect our hard-won rights – including the right to choose and our right to make our voices heard at the ballot box.

4.

Q: How can we move the country to more renewable energy?

A: I know firsthand the economic opportunities that come when we prioritize innovative, bold solutions to tackle the threat of climate change. In the 1960s when the Clean Air Act passed, manufacturers needed people to build catalytic converters. My dad, his brother, and thousands of people across Wisconsin got good-paying jobs because of the opportunity created by addressing climate change. My father’s union job was our ticket to the middle class, and it’s the reason I am where I am today.

As Lt. Governor, I’m proud to have led the charge for bold action to address climate change at the state level, including creating the first Clean Power Plan in the state’s history.

In the U.S. Senate, I’ll support bold climate legislation that prioritizes curbing greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible, creating jobs with investments in clean energy, and manufacturing solar panels and windmills right here in Wisconsin.

5.

Q: Wisconsinites pay more for healthcare than many other states, due in large part to healthcare monopolies. How would you propose that we lower these costs?

A: I am proud to have been fighting alongside Governor Evers to close the Medicaid coverage gap.

 

Unfortunately we have a gerrymandered legislature that is refusing to give people the help they need.

That’s why we need help at the federal level. We need to enhance Affordable Care Act subsidies. We also need to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs and cap insulin at $35. We need to close the Medicaid coverage gap so that your access to health care doesn’t depend on the state you live in. That’s what I would fight for in the Senate.

And we need to pass a Medicare for All plan like the one supported by Senator Baldwin.

6.

Q: What concerns you most about the recent attacks on voting rights and election administrators?

A: Republicans have launched a full-out assault on our rights – from our fundamental right to make decisions about our own bodies to our right to make ourselves heard at the ballot box. Ron Johnson and his Republican colleagues support a partisan takeover of Wisconsin’s elections.

Far too many politicians for far too long have operated as if the rules don’t apply to them. That kind of mindset is the reason working families get left in the dust, while people like Senator Ron Johnson deliver tax breaks to his mega donors. We have to change that.

The first policy plan of my campaign was a Democracy and Accountability Agenda that would bolster voting rights, strengthen our election security to protect against election subversion, and get big money out of politics because I know that we cannot accomplish anything without our democracy.

7.

Q: Are there more steps, besides those that President Biden has already taken, that the state can do to help people who are really struggling with the economic impact of inflation, gas prices, housing prices, and stagnant wages?

A: I’m running for the U.S. Senate because, as times get harder for workers and middle class families, it’s important that we have leaders who understand firsthand the challenges we’re facing. My parents’ union jobs were our ticket to the middle class, but that’s a ticket in short supply these days. People are frustrated, and they have every right to be. I’m right there with them.

I’m glad to see that the President has implemented a federal gas tax holiday to ease prices for working families at the gas pump, but we need to do more.

I recently released my middle class tax cut plan, which would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit so that working families can keep more of what they earn. We need to raise the minimum wage to $15. We also need to hold oil and drug companies accountable and end subsidies for oil and gas companies that are using a crisis to make record profits.

In the long run, we need to bring manufacturing back home and start making things here in Wisconsin again. We have the opportunity to address supply chain shortages that drive up inflation by building things in Wisconsin – and we can create thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining union jobs in the process.

8.

Q: How do you propose to protect reproductive choice for all people?

A: It has never been more urgent that we abolish the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade into law. Women’s lives are at stake. There is no excuse for inaction.

Like it is for so many Americans, this is personal for me. I am an only child, but I wasn’t my mother’s only pregnancy. Before she had me, she was pregnant with another child, but the pregnancy had complications. She made the very personal decision to have an abortion.

I don’t want to imagine what could have happened if she hadn’t had the option to make the best decision for herself and her health. But without the protections of Roe v. Wade, and due to a lack of action in the U.S. Senate, women across the country are now being forced into this very position. And I won’t sit back and let this be the status quo.

In the Senate, I’ll go to the mat to protect every woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, and I won’t stop until we codify Roe into law.

9.

Q: Wisconsin is one of the worst states in the nation for Black maternal mortality, and is the worst state in which to raise a black child. How can we change that?

A: When my grandfather moved to Milwaukee after serving in World War II, it was the best place to raise a Black family. Today, the opposite is the case. When companies like AO Smith where my grandfather worked and General Motors where my father worked closed their doors and shipped those jobs overseas, the opportunities, funding for public schools, and strong local economies went away as well.

But I believe that Wisconsin’s best days are ahead of us, not behind us. We can address elevated Black maternal mortality rates by codifying Roe v. Wade into law and expanding access to quality and affordable health care. As Lt. Governor, I’m proud to have stood with the Governor in proposing a $30 million Healthy Women, Healthy Babies Initiative.

In the Senate, I’ll bring good-paying manufacturing jobs back to communities that have lost them, and I’ll fight for investments in those communities that will ensure Wisconsin is a great place to live, work, and grow for the next generation.

10.

Q: Would you vote to do away with the filibuster? Why or why not?

A: Yes. I’ll never let an archaic Senate procedure stand in the way of our basic human rights — whether it’s abortion access or our right to vote.

11.

Q: Do you think compromise is still possible in this Senate? What specifically would you do to build relationships with colleagues across the aisle?

A: I have a proven record of bringing people together to find common solutions. As the Chair of the Governor’s Climate Task Force I’m proud to have brought experts from different sides of the issue to the table to work together – utility company executives, climate activists, Indigenous leaders, and more.

Republicans have launched a full-scale attack on our rights. From voting rights to being able to make decisions about our own bodies. And while Democrats have worked hard to deliver on our promises to protect workers, expand voting rights, and codify Roe v. Wade, we have 50 Senators right now who haven’t lifted a finger to help working families – and Ron Johnson has consistently been one of them.

I’ll work with anyone who is willing to come together to help rebuild our middle class, protect the right to choose, and make our communities safer by ending gun violence.

12.

Q: If you do not win the primary election, will you support the candidate who does?

A: Yes. I am committed to defeating Ron Johnson in November, who has left my family, my neighbors, and my community in the dust in favor of his wealthy donors and the corporate executives and special interest lobbyists in his tax bracket. As the candidate leading Ron Johnson with the highest level of support, and the only candidate in the Democratic Primary field beating Ron Johnson with Independent voters, I believe I am the best candidate to unite our party to flip this seat this fall.

Peter peckarsky

1.

Q: What motivated you to run for this office?

A: I'm running for office because this is what I can do for my country. I have been involved in elections protections for years, and when I saw the fraud accusations in the last election, and how Ron Johnson supported the January 6th riots, I knew I needed to take action. It's known that he and his wealthy donors personally benefitted from the tax bill passed in 2017. He's prioritizing his own money over the lives of the people he is supposed to represent, and he has to go.

2.

Q: What relevant experience do you have for this position?

A: I have years of experience working as an attorney in elections protections, as well as participating in patent, trademark, fraud, and antitrust matters. After the 2004 election, I served as lead trial council in contesting the Presidential election in Ohio and filed a motion that if granted, would have put John Kerry in the White House. I worked in organizing President Obama's 2008 campaign, and worked for three candidates in 2016 in an effort to secure a Democratic victory. After the 2016 election, I served as an attorney aiding Jill Stein's recount efforts. In 2020 and early 2021, I worked as the National Director of an Election Software project in AZ, FL, MI, NC, OH, PA, and WI. 

3.

Q:  What are your highest priorities when elected?

A: My highest priorities are election security, reproductive rights, gun violence, and universal health care. All of these things are incredibly important in improving and protecting our country. Americans are dying daily from gun violence, 50% of the population just had their rights taken away, and health care is unaffordable for many Americans. Fixing these issues, and protecting our democracy are my top priorities.

4.

Q: How can we move the country to more renewable energy?

A: Implementing a carbon tax and manufacturing wind turbines, solar panels and other clean energy sources would be a step in the right direction. We also need to make these energy sources available to the average citizen, or else the fossil fuel industry will continue to have a stranglehold on our country. 

5.

Q: Wisconsinites pay more for healthcare than many other states, due in large part to healthcare monopolies. How would you propose that we lower these costs?

A: States like California have already begun to implement price controls on medications, and I believe Wisconsin should follow suit. People shouldn't be paying thousands of dollars for a few pills, no matter what it is. Beyond medications, we need antitrust reform in the health care industry because it allows these companies to set increasingly higher prices with no repercussions at all. 

6.

Q: What concerns you most about the recent attacks on voting rights and election administrators?

A: These attacks are concerning for many reasons. Voting rights restrictions and threats to election administrators make our elections less free and less fair. It's also concerning because here in Wisconsin, we've already seen the effects of conservative voting restrictions with the court's ruling on drop boxes being illegal. With fewer drop boxes, people who work long hours and can't get to the polls on voting day have less of a chance to vote. This close to an election, fewer drop boxes and more absentee voting restrictions will make it much harder for people to register and vote.

7.

Q: Are there more steps, besides those that President Biden has already taken, that the state can do to help people who are really struggling with the economic impact of inflation, gas prices, housing prices, and stagnant wages?

A: We can raise the minimum wage first of all, which still sits at $7.25/hour. No one can live on wages like this, and many other states have begun to see that. We can also invest in affordable housing so that people aren't spending over half their income on rent. 

8.

Q: How do you propose to protect reproductive choice for all people?

A: President Biden's executive order offers some protection for reproductive freedom but reproductive rights are coming so heavily under attack that we need to go further and codify Roe v. Wade. Every person deserves the right to do what they choose with their own bodies, and repealing Roe has taken that right from about 50% of the American population. 

9.

Q: Wisconsin is one of the worst states in the nation for Black maternal mortality, and is the worst state in which to raise a black child. How can we change that?

A: First off, in order to reduce Black maternal mortality, we need to make sure prenatal care for black women is accessible. Health insurance and health care is already astronomically expensive in the US, so making health care affordable and accessible would be an important step in reducing black maternal mortality. To answer the second part of the question, we need to invest in programs to help those in poverty. Black families in Wisconsin live in poverty far more often than white families, so investing in social programs, raising the minimum wage, and offering affordable school lunches would help us start solving this issue.

10.

Q: Would you vote to do away with the filibuster? Why or why not?

A: I would. The filibuster has long been used by extremist minorities to block Civil Rights and similar legislation, and allowing the filibuster to remain as a strategy gives more power to those who represent fewer people. Republicans have been, and will continue to use the filibuster as a way to prevent popularly supported legislation from passing, effectively squashing majority rule and the heart of democracy. 

11.

Q: Do you think compromise is still possible in this Senate? What specifically would you do to build relationships with colleagues across the aisle?

A: Compromise is still possible in the Senate, despite such differences in the parties. To build relationships it is important to find common ground, like with the recent bipartisan gun legislation that was passed in late June.  In this instance, we did not get everything we wanted as Democrats, but we took a step towards preventing more horrific shootings.

12.

Q: If you do not win the primary election, will you support the candidate who does?

A: Yes.

Steven olikara

1.

Q: What motivated you to run for this office?

A: I am running for the U.S. Senate to create a more inclusive, honest, and compassionate kind of politics that better responds to the generational challenges we face, from climate change to economic inequity. We must transform the incentives in politics so that our leaders work together and make government more responsive to people’s needs. We need structural reform and a radical bridge-building to demonstrate that a different way is possible in politics. Leading with this style of politics is not theoretical for me—I bring the most federal legislative experience in this race as the founder and former CEO of the Millennial Action Project (MAP), the largest organization of young elected officials in the country.

My vision for a new politics stems from my background as a musician in Greater Milwaukee. Music taught me the power of creating open spaces that affirm people’s dignity and humanity—it creates better music and better collaborations and encourages the number one skill of an effective leader – listening. That’s the spirit we need to renew our democracy.

2.

Q: What relevant experience do you have for this position?

A: I am a proud Wisconsinite, the son of Indian immigrants, a UW-Madison graduate, a musician, and the founder and former CEO of the Millennial Action Project (MAP). MAP has trained, organized, and mobilized a generation of young elected leaders in Congress and state legislatures. I founded the Millennial Action Project to pass legislation combating climate change. Nearly ten years later, I have helped train over 2,000 young elected officials across 30 state legislatures and Congress. We introduced over 200 bipartisan bills in Congress alone, passing 35 into law. This means I bring the most legislative experience to this race. I know what it takes to achieve legislation that invests in clean energy, ends partisan gerrymandering, and counters gun violence because we did this and much more at MAP. Passing legislation requires building diverse coalitions. I have the life experience, relationships, and track record to not only develop big plans to improve the lives of all Wisconsinites, but also translate these into concrete legislation that I can pass into law and have tangible, positive impacts across the state.

Additionally, my experience leading young American legislators and human rights activists internationally and my service on the Advisory Board of UW-Madison’s International Division uniquely prepares me for responsibilities of a U.S. Senator. I am committed to ensuring dignity in our domestic and foreign policy. Our foreign policy must prioritize protecting human lives and dignity and ending the forever wards. 

My experience and our commitment to changing systems to pass forward thinking legislation has earned me endorsements from former Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton (WI), former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Obama’s Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams, and others detailed at StevenOlikara.com/supporters.

3.

Q:  What are your highest priorities when elected?

A: My number one priority is to fundamentally change the business model of politics to make it more inclusive and honest, and restore integrity to our election system. Politicians in Washington demonize each other and polarize the American public because it’s highly profitable to do so. My first piece of legislation will get big money out of politics and reform campaign finance, including getting rid of dark money. My proposal to make government work for all Wisconsinites includes: a ban on Members fundraising while Congress is in session, Final Five Voting, Congressional term limits, an end to legalized bribery in Congress, filibuster reform or elimination, an end to partisan gerrymandering, and steps to enable more working people and non-traditional candidates to run for office. These reforms will incentivize Members to actually do their job of legislating, level the playing field for a fairer economy, and make Congress responsive to ordinary Americans.

These fundamental reforms to our democracy would also advance other progressive priorities. My campaign slogan is Dignity For All because it is crucial that we restore dignity in politics and prioritize human rights. This includes taking on climate change to pass on a livable planet to the next generation with a 100% clean electricity standard by 2030 and the cessation of federal fossil fuel subsidies. I will also update the Americans with Disabilities Act and fight for universal healthcare. We need criminal justice reform that provides a real second chance for justice-impact people, and a humane immigration system with a pathway to citizenship for people living undocumented. I will pass legislation to counter gun violence; my first proposal is ensuring background checks for firearms. We must protect women’s freedoms by codifying Roe v. Wade into law, which both Republicans and Democrats have neglected to do for decades.

As part of my Dignity for All agenda, I plan to create a more dignified economy. This includes offering free technical and vocational education and expanding apprenticeships. We must establish universal broadband internet access. I will spur entrepreneurship with portable benefits and investment opportunities, and target federal funds towards entrepreneurs and family farmers. I will also pass the PRO Act, which will empower workers, protect civil rights, and stimulate the economy, and is essential in rebuilding the economy post-pandemic. Additionally, we must innovate in and regulate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, and social media, and we must invest in job and small business opportunities for veterans.

This may sound idealistic to some, but I have been doing this work for the last 10 years with the Millennial Action Project. Building diverse coalitions is the most practical way to pass forward-thinking legislation – it’s how we passed 35 bills through Congress and ended partisan gerrymandering and achieved clean elections reform in two of our state chapters. You can learn more about our approach and achievements at StevenOlikara.com/about.

4.

Q: How can we move the country to more renewable energy?

A: I’m proud to be the first-ever environmental studies major to graduate from UW-Madison as I also helped create the program. Like many young people, I am deeply committed to addressing the climate crisis and recognize that we cannot wait any longer to take significant action for our future generations. Wisconsin entrepreneurs and small family farmers have tremendous opportunities to both lead and benefit from the clean energy economy—but we need a federal government that is on the side of solving the climate crisis as opposed to worsening it. 

That’s why advancing our environmental agenda is not only a top priority but also a core part of my experience. In 2016, a highly successful federal clean energy innovation program was on the chopping block. Through MAP, I had a lead role in building the coalition of Democrats and Republicans in Congress to save and expand this clean energy bill. In 2019, MAP helped introduce the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act with strong bipartisan support. The BEST Act focused on developing and implementing large-scale energy storage systems, which allow suppliers to stockpile excess energy and tap these sources when needed. I will expand measures like this Congress, scaling up efforts to move the country to more renewable energy and combat climate change.

The hallmark of my environmental and economic strategy will be spurring a WWII-level of green industrialization in our country and calling for a 100% Clean Electricity Standard by 2030. In order to achieve that, I will build on my existing climate coalition in Congress and include a diverse coalition of elected officials, workers, environmental activists, and more. This will create millions of good paying jobs, drastically expand clean energy, and ensure future generations have a livable planet. 

5.

Q: Wisconsinites pay more for healthcare than many other states, due in large part to healthcare monopolies. How would you propose that we lower these costs?

A: I believe healthcare is a human right and we must seek the fastest way to universal coverage, including mental, behavioral, dental, vision, and reproductive health. To do this, we must build a system that decouples healthcare from employment. Too many Americans feel stuck in jobs that are potentially abusive because leaving them would risk losing healthcare benefits, not just for themselves, but also for their families. We must talk about the root issue of price inflation of healthcare. The healthcare system currently profits on volume, keeping people in the system as opposed to keeping them healthy. We must radically change the incentives in our healthcare system and invest significantly in preventative health to avoid increasing costs.

Additionally, we must ensure that Medicare can negotiate directly to reduce prescription drug prices. These prices are astronomical right now because of the system of legalized bribery in Congress, which allows pharmaceutical and drug companies to sponsor members of Congress and even directly hand them legislative language. To get a new healthcare system in America, which will spur greater opportunity, equity, and dignity for all Wisconsinites, we must ban lobbyists from funding members of Congress.

6.

Q: What concerns you most about the recent attacks on voting rights and election administrators?

A: These attacks escalate the growing threat to our fundamental rights as Americans and Wisconsinites. 80% of Wisconsin voters believe the federal government is fundamentally broken and will not solve the problems we are facing. This is the number one issue that I hear about all across Wisconsin; a lack of trust in government. That’s why the first piece of legislation I’ll introduce as Senator will get big money out of politics and restore integrity to our election system.

Moreover, our politics have failed us in that we haven’t had real benefits and resources coming to our most challenged, vulnerable, and impoverished communities. One of the most impactful reforms that I’ve been passionate about over the years is automatic voter registration. With this system, when you go in to get your driver's license, for example, you will be automatically registered to vote. I’m proud to be the only candidate who’s been directly involved in passing automatic voter registration laws across the country by getting not only Democratic, but also Republican support. The difference between talking about this issue and passing it is having a leader who is capable of building those diverse coalitions in the spirit of openness, empathy, and humanity. I want to scale up that legislation I’ve already been successful in at the state level and pass it federally. Further, I will vote in support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

7.

Q: Are there more steps, besides those that President Biden has already taken, that the state can do to help people who are really struggling with the economic impact of inflation, gas prices, housing prices, and stagnant wages?

A: Yes, there are more measures that the state can take. There is essentially a regressive tax coming out of the pandemic, disproportionately impacting communities of low income individuals. Any politician who’s missing in action on these issues, Democrat or Republican, is enabling these oppressive economic systems. One of the biggest drivers of inflation and gas prices right now is the major disruptions on the supply chain system amidst the pandemic, both internationally and domestically. I plan to further investigate how to open up American ports, addressing some of the bottlenecks, and helping to support President Biden and consider using the Defense Production Act for some products. This could increase production of critical supplies to pre-pandemic levels.

We need to center dignity in all of the decisions that we make. As we see costs related to gas and housing go up, we also see that wages are largely staying stagnant. I support raising the minimum wage to help people struggling with the economic impact of this. As legislators, our proposals must take into account the needs of small business owners and mom-and-pop shops trying to make ends meet. Some big companies like Amazon are actually advocating for a higher minimum wage because they know it is an easy way to take out their smaller competition. Therefore, we also need incentives and credits to help small business owners compete. 

We must go even further for those who are struggling with work. I’m proud to call for a guaranteed minimum income. This is focused particularly on poverty alleviation, and I hope to build on to some of the demonstration projects going on right now across the country and scale them up. To the federal level. There is bipartisan interest in an approach like this as it could streamline government benefits for recipients and administrators.

8.

Q: How do you propose to protect reproductive choice for all people?

A: Reproductive choice is a basic human right. There has been a loss of dignity in our politics – a lack of understanding of human rights – and the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is an example of that. Fighting for dignity means fighting for a woman’s right to freedom over her body. Establishment politicians have been campaign profiting off of this issue for decades, having had multiple chances to codify Roe into law when Democrats had a majority in Congress, but they failed to do so. I support legal protections for abortion and convening inclusive conversations to humanize the real stories behind reproductive health and build greater empathy. We can fix the incentives in Congress to garner the votes and align Members of Congress with the three-quarters of Americans who supported Roe. If needed, I would support getting rid of the filibuster to codify abortion rights into law. 

Additionally, there are opportunities for higher ground across the political spectrum – from reducing unplanned pregnancies to ensuring kids are able to thrive. We need elected officials who are willing to do the right thing, as opposed to what is politically expedient. By doing this, we will change not just the outcome of policy, but the system itself and ensure that dignity is at the center of what Congress is doing. 

Together we must uphold the Constitutional right to personal freedom, including women’s decisions about their bodies. Overturning Roe is the natural conclusion of a court that has descended into trench warfare partisan politics, instead of nonpartisan judicial review. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is time to structurally reform the Supreme Court, including enacting term limits for Justices.

9.

Q: Wisconsin is one of the worst states in the nation for Black maternal mortality, and is the worst state in which to raise a black child. How can we change that?

A: The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe and uphold the Mississippi abortion ban will increase maternal mortality for Black and Brown people. We must end the Supreme Court’s stranglehold on women’s rights and all other forms of privacy and personal freedom.

Beyond the Court, anyone running for the U.S. Senate must have a plan to change the system in order to achieve greater dignity in our politics and society. For example, we need the fastest way to achieve universal healthcare and transition from a system of volume-based care to value-based care. We will only achieve this and other actions against systemic racism by fixing the incentives in politics. We must get big money out of politics and end legalized bribery, such as the practice of big pharma funding the campaigns of Members of Congress tasked with regulating drug companies. Members should be incentivized to work for us, not big money special interests. 

There are other components of our Dignity for All agenda (StevenOlikara.com/vision) that would help address the racial disparities we see across Wisconsin, such as ensuring a livable planet, increasing the number of healthcare providers statewide, and exploring universal basic income. 

10.

Q: Would you vote to do away with the filibuster? Why or why not?

A: As the candidate that most emphasizes the importance of dialogue and legislative results, I will lead an effort to modernize Congress and restore its deliberative function. The filibuster is out of control and contributes to gridlock, primarily because it has become politically and personally painless for Senators to wield it. We must reform the filibuster to promote in-person deliberation on the Senate floor, increase accountability, and make it harder for Senators to stall legislation. Reform would require a talking filibuster (as opposed to “filibuster-by-email”), upheld by 41 supporting Senators on the Senate floor, while allowing a simple majority approval on appropriations bills to avoid government shutdowns. I believe reform is the most impactful path forward, however, if there is an up-or-down vote on eliminating the filibuster, I would vote in favor.

11.

Q: Do you think compromise is still possible in this Senate? What specifically would you do to build relationships with colleagues across the aisle?

A: Not only is compromise possible, building diverse coalitions is the most practical way to pass legislation and achieve our progressive priorities. I know what it takes to get it done – I have the most federal legislative experience out of anyone running in the primary. I founded the Millennial Action Project, a national nonprofit that has trained over 2,000 young legislators in state legislatures and Congress on passing bills that take on generational threats like climate change and gun violence. In 2016, a clean energy bill was scheduled to expire. MAP started with young Members of Congress: Democrats and Republicans that believe in addressing climate change and recognize the federal government can incentivize renewable sources of energy. MAP helped build a majority in both chambers of Congress to pass an expansion on the clean energy bill that the President then signed into law. We started on areas of agreement between legislators and achieved a significant win in the fight against climate change. This is the unique approach that would have made a significant difference from the beginning of the 117th Congress.

As Congress has become increasingly dysfunctional over the years, party leaders have relied almost exclusively on reconciliation and omnibus bills to pass their priorities. In my view, this is lazy governing. It results in establishment politicians’ deal-making that benefits the most powerful interests but not ordinary Americans. Big progressive priorities, such as a WWII-scale of green industrialization, require fundamental, structural political and Congressional reform. 

12.

Q: If you do not win the primary election, will you support the candidate who does?

A: Yes, I will support whoever receives the Democratic nomination to challenge Ron Johnson.   But I’ve been building the diverse coalition needed to take on Ron Johnson and his anti-democratic politics. With a Democratic president, Democratic majorities in Congress, and rising economic frustrations, Democrats have a structural disadvantage in midterm elections. Like in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Democrats will lose if we run conventional, consultant-driven campaigns. The winning Democrat not only needs to energize the party faithful, but also attract an additional 10% margin from Independents and Republicans. In the words of an endorser, former Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, “Steven is the one Democratic candidate capable of rebuilding trust and putting together a winning campaign.”   My campaign is growing the electorate beyond the active Democratic base to include Wisconsin’s Exhausted Majority, the 80% of Wisconsin voters who believe the federal government is fundamentally broken and will not solve the problems we are facing and are looking for a new kind of candidate. I will continue to build on the diverse support I already have across Wisconsin, from elected officials and farmers in Lafayette, Green, and Outagamie Counties, to educators and activists in Brown, Dane, and Milwaukee Counties. Our strongest base of volunteers is in the WOW counties, the voters who got Democrats elected to statewide office in 2018 and nationally in 2020. Olikara for Senate is built to win in November.