A Wisconsin Democratic Senate frontrunner held a San Francisco fundraiser with the son of left-wing terrorists and a California state lawmaker who wants to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mandela Barnes traveled to the Bay Area on Tuesday to hobnob with San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin and California state senator Scott Wiener, a photo shared by California Democratic Party vice chair David Campos shows. Boudin—the son of two Weather Underground terrorists who has ended cash bail and repeatedly declined to prosecute serial offenders—faces a recall effort sparked by a murder surge in his city. Wiener, meanwhile, has called for the abolition of ICE, because it is a "force of oppression" that makes "communities less safe."
Barnes is running to succeed incumbent GOP senator Ron Johnson. While the San Francisco soirée may have helped his coffers, the guest list may not play well with local voters who have helped make him the frontrunner in a crowded primary. In an August Remington Research Group poll, Milwaukee County Democratic primary voters identified "lowering crime and increasing neighborhood safety" as their top issue. That same poll showed Barnes with a 24-point lead in the primary.
Republicans in the swing state have accused Barnes and the rest of the party of being soft on crime. Barnes referenced "overpoliced communities" and refused to distance himself from the "idea behind ‘defund the police'" in a TV interview. Wisconsin Republicans have pointed to the clip to accuse Barnes of caring "more about appeasing the far left and violent criminals than standing up for public safety."
Barnes did not return a request for comment.
In addition to Wiener's efforts to abolish ICE, the Democrat in 2016 called for "[California] & other states to become sanctuary states." Boudin also campaigned on his intention to hold "zero cooperation with ICE" and prosecute ICE agents. In 2019, he bragged he "helped pioneer San Francisco's sanctuary city policy."
Boudin, who served as a translator for the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez before taking office, has faced criticism for his failure to charge serial offenders who have gone on to commit heinous crimes.
In January, for example, police arrested 45-year-old Troy McAllister after the San Francisco resident hit and killed two women while drunkenly driving a stolen vehicle through a red light. Months before the tragedy, Boudin's office offered McAllister a plea agreement for a robbery charge that kept him out of jail. Police went on to arrest McAllister on multiple occasions for drug and theft crimes, but prosecutors did not charge the career criminal.
After the January arrest, assistant district attorney Ryan Kao wrote in a court filing that McAllister's "pattern of criminality has done nothing but increase over the years" and acknowledged Boudin's office "missed defendant's out-of-control spiral while on parole." San Francisco police admonished Boudin over his role in the incident.
"Had the DA done their job, Mr. McAllister would've been in custody and you would not have grieving families," San Francisco Police Officers Association president Tony Montoya said at the time.
Boudin in 2020 lobbied disgraced former New York governor Andrew Cuomo (D.) to grant clemency to his father, David Gilbert, who faced a 75-year sentence for second-degree murder over his role in a 1981 Brinks truck robbery, which left two police officers and a security guard dead. Boudin's mother, Kathy Boudin, also participated in the deadly heist. Cuomo granted Gilbert clemency before resigning from office in August.
Barnes became lieutenant governor of Wisconsin in 2019 after serving as a state legislator for four years. While a September poll released by Barnes's campaign shows him in a tie with Johnson, the Republican has not yet decided to run for reelection.