By Mrinal Gokhale
The upcoming general election on November 6 has created a tense political climate in Wisconsin over the past few months, and the race for Lieutenant Governor, Governor, and Senator has particularly generated a lot of buzz.
On Sunday, Oct. 23, Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif) came to Milwaukee for the second time to support Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc). Joining them at the Democratic Coordinated Campaign Office, 1801 North Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, were Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes. Evers is challenging Governor Scott Walker, while Barnes is challenging Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. The group arrived directly from Madison, where they held another rally.
Senator Harris previously visited Milwaukee in July to support Baldwin at the Italian Community Center before the primary election.
The event started at 4:30 p.m., and the room became quickly packed and energized. One area was sectioned off for the group to take turns speaking. It was here that Harris received a large cake for her recent birthday.
Senator Baldwin introduced Harris as her colleague and friend in the Senate. She described Harris as a “trailblazer.”
“Kamala Harris is the second African American woman to be elected to the Senate,” Baldwin said. “She’s the first black Attorney General for the State of California.”
Harris said that she believes the outcome of this Wisconsin election is a “statement on who we are as a country.”
“All candidates that are here this afternoon represent the best of who we are,” she said.
She continued: “I’m here primarily to support Tammy Baldwin and her voice on the Senate on issues ranging from Affordable Care Act and fighting to maintain it, to what we need to about the opioid crisis to student loan debt, which are issues that impact California.”
Baldwin who has been a Senator since 2013, is being challenged by Republican Leah Vukmir. Healthcare is one area where Vukmir and Baldwin have expressed major differences of opinion. In the past, Baldwin has spoken about her pre-existing health condition she had in childhood, which motivated her to get involved in politics.
“I didn’t have coverage for a lot of my young life,” Baldwin said. “I thought that was wrong, and my grandparents who raised me worried, and I don’t think any parent, grandparent or foster parent should have those worries, so it became my fight.”
Baldwin supports the Affordable Care Act, which she and Vukmir differ on.
“I’ve seen in these last two years, attempt after attempt for big powerful interests, and sadly, at their sides are Republicans voting to take healthcare away,” she said.
She added that she supports and helped pass the law that allows people to have their parents’ health insurance until age 26.
Another issue discussed was how the hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has impacted this election. Harris was present for these hearings.
“There’s a culmination of events including Kavanaugh hearings that emphasized that elections matter.,” she said. “Who holds these offices matters, and it has energized people to participate and vote.”
In the end, the group encouraged the crowd to vote early if possible, and also to keep in mind the law that requires a photo identification to vote.
“This is a moment to fight for who we are,” she said. “Honor our ancestors, and vote today.”