Come on, admit it — you wanted this to be John Fetterman, right? Well, Republicans aren’t that lucky, but they’re luckier than you’d expect in Wisconsin. At one point, incumbent Republican Sen Ron Johnson looked like the most endangered of the GOP’s re-elect candidates in this cycle. Recently, however, he’s pulled ahead in polling enough to breath a sigh of relief.

After this, he might even get to chuckle a little bit, thanks to the failure of Democrats to vet challenger Mandela Barnes — or at least get him to clean up his Twitter posts. Yeesh (via John Schindler):

Mandela Barnes, the Democratic Senate candidate in Wisconsin, praised Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei for supporting Black Lives Matter, said he wanted to be the “Dennis Rodman” of the Assad regime, and used his Twitter account to defend some of the world’s most notorious dictators and repressive regimes. …

“The issue of US govt oppression against blacks is a 100s year-old issue,” wrote Khamenei, adding the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

Barnes “liked” Khamenei’s post on Twitter and responded to the Iranian leader: “The first tweet of 2015 from @khamenei_ir is #BlackLivesMatter. Let that sink in. May This be a most wonderful year for you and yours.”

As of 3 ET this afternoon, the tweet was still live:

That’s not the only paean to Middle East dictators that appears in Mandela’s feed, either. The Washington Free Beacon also found this gem, and includes the genocidal context in which Barnes wrote it:

Barnes also wrote several posts opposing any U.S. effort to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in 2013, while the embattled dictator was massacring his own people and using chemical weapons.

“I’d like to pull a Rodman next. I should have hopped that fence to Syria when I had the chance,” wrote Barnes on April 9, 2013, a few weeks after Assad’s regime carried out a deadly Sarin gas attack against its opposition.

Here’s that one, also still live:

The Free Beacon has a few more linked as well, none of which are as clearly problematic as these two. Barnes was hardly the only person in politics to regret the 2003 Iraq War and the removal of Saddam Hussein. Nor was Barnes alone in being opposed to American intervention in Syria during their civil war, even after Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons exposed Barack Obama’s red lines as an impotent boast. Some Republicans argued against a retaliatory strike at the time too, especially since Obama hadn’t bothered to consult Congress before declaring his “red line,” and a few even still opposed Donald Trump’s retaliatory strike a few years later under similar circumstances.

Barnes also expressed an interest in working at the US embassy in Havana after Obama normalized relations with Cuba. That’s not quite the same thing as cheering the Castros — there are plenty of reasons to work in embassies in hostile regions, after all, and the work is interesting. But given Barnes’ earlier praise of Khameini and Assad, he’d hardly have been a low-risk addition to the diplomatic corps in Havana. Well, that and Barnes’ habit of making appearances on Russian state television denouncing American police, as the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel discovered last week.

No one could scrub those appearances from the record at this point even if those were known, but there is no excuse for leaving these tweets live.

The discovery by the Free Beacon this close to the election may look suspiciously like well-timed oppo research. And … so what? It doesn’t make it any less accurate, nor does it make the failure to vet Barnes and his social-media track record any less of an unforced error. How many times do political parties and candidates have to be reminded that the Internet may not be entirely forever, but pretty darned close to it if you don’t mind your posting history? This is Candidate Prep 101 stuff, and both Barnes and Wisconsin Democrats have proven utterly incompetent at it.

Now everyone knows that Barnes isn’t a center-left politician that represents average Wisconsin folks, or even a standard progressive in the Bernie Sanders mold. He’s a radical extremist who gloms onto anti-American dictators abroad. Expect Johnson and Republicans in Wisconsin to make that point very clear over the next couple of weeks, and maybe even in the gubernatorial race with Tony Evers’ embrace of Barnes in this cycle.

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