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Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski To Run For US Senate

Godlewski Joins A Growing Field Of Democrats Vying For Seat Held By Republican US Sen. Ron Johnson

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, right, talks with state superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor
State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, right, talks with state superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor during Gov. Tony Evers’ first State of the State address in Madison, Wisconsin, at the State Capitol building on Jan. 22, 2019. Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin Treasurer Sarah Godlewski has announced she is officially running for U.S. Senate, joining a growing list of Democrats who are vying for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

Godlewski, who was first elected to the treasurer’s office in 2018, said in a video announcing her candidacy released Wednesday that she wants to fix the U.S. Senate, and that means taking on Johnson.

“I know we can do so much better,” Godlewski said. “Instead of conspiracy theories, we can focus on actually helping families.”

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Other Democrats already running for U.S. Senate include Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and Wausau doctor Gillian Battino. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is also said to be considering entering the race.

Johnson, who was first elected in 2010 and reelected in 2016, hasn’t said whether he will run for a third term. Johnson previously promised to serve just two terms in the U.S. Senate, but he has since opened the door to running in 2022.

Godlewski, 39, was born in Eau Claire, graduating from Eau Claire Memorial High School in 2000. A short bio released with her announcement called her a fifth-generation Wisconsinite raised by two public school teachers.

Godlewski was an active opponent of the statewide referendum that sought to eliminate the treasurer’s office in April 2018. After voters overwhelmingly defeated the referendum, Godlewski ran for the office.

She emerged from a three-way Democratic primary in August 2018 and went on to win the general election that November, defeating Republican Travis Hartwig by about 4 percentage points.

Because the treasurer’s office had most of its official responsibilities shifted to other agencies over the past few decades, Godlewski had few official duties once she was sworn in. But she’s used her bully pulpit to lead task forces and make recommendations on issues like student loan debt and retirement security.

Godlewski also chairs Wisconsin’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a little-known government agency in charge of distributing revenue from Wisconsin’s public lands to schools and libraries around the state. The agency manages more than $1.2 billion in assets and 77,000 acres of land. She referenced that job in her announcement video, contrasting it to Johnson’s opposition to the recent federal COVID-19 relief bill.

“I work to make sure students in every school district got the technology they needed for online learning,” Godlewski said. “Ron Johnson tried to stop people from getting $1,400 checks, more vaccines and relief for Main Street.”

Much of Godlewski’s announcement attacked Johnson for recent statements he has made downplaying the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. She also referenced Johnson’s support for former President Donald Trump, who recently endorsed Johnson.

Her video laid out several priorities in the U.S. Senate, saying she wanted to combat climate change, lower the cost of prescription drugs, address inequality in the justice system, raise the minimum wage and end the Senate’s filibuster.

Shortly after her announcement, Lasry issued a statement on Twitter welcoming Godlewski to the race.

“Congrats to my friend Sarah Godlewski for throwing her hat in the ring!,” Lasry tweeted. “We are all here with the same goal, to beat Ron Johnson.”

Nelson also welcomed Godlewski, but included a challenge.

“I welcome Sarah Godlewski into the race as we all stand united to defeat Ron Johnson,” Nelson tweeted. “No one should buy a Senate seat. I ask the same question as I did of Alex: Will you commit not to spend your own wealth or “invest” in your campaign? Wisconsin awaits your answer.”

Godlewski is married to investor Max Duckworth, with whom she co-founded the firm MaSa Partners. She loaned her campaign $290,000 in her 2018 race for treasurer.

A spokesperson for Johnson declined to comment on Godlewski’s announcement. Wisconsin Republican Party spokesperson Anna Kelly told the Associated Press that Godlewski had embellished her accomplishments, criticizing her for “failing to deliver anything of substance.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported several publications and websites had said Godlewski had a master’s degree, even though she does not.

The Democratic primary for U.S. Senate will be held in August 2022.