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Mandela Barnes could become a model for progressive and Black candidates if he wins Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race this fall — and also give the Democrats a Manchin-and-Sinema-proof Senate majority.

First, he repositioned himself slightly on policy. While emphasizing his progressive views on issues such as supporting unions and abortion rights, Barnes did not make Medicare-for-all a centerpiece of his campaign, and he repeatedly noted that he does not back abolishing ICE or reducing police funding.

That said, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates like then-Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Warren would likely have done better against Joe Biden if they had spent more time emphasizing that they could win the general election and played down some of their most divisive stands. Policies like Medicare-for-all and abolishing ICE have almost no chance of getting adopted, so progressive candidates who tout them create electoral problems for themselves without any practical benefit.

Without making all those moves, it’s not clear that Barnes would have won the primary and had the chance to show he can win a general election. How Barnes cleared this perceived electability bar could be an important lesson for progressive candidates and candidates of color, who are sometimes blocked by Democratic activists, donors and voters during primaries because of doubts about their general election chances. If Barnes beats Johnson, expect to see Black and progressive candidates borrow from these tactics, particularly if they are running statewide in swing states.

But a Barnes general election victory isn’t assured. Despite all of the discussion in the primary about whatever individual liabilities Barnes might have, his biggest challenge will be the same one his White opponents would have faced: running in a swing state in a year when their party controls the White House. Candidates in those circumstances often lose. While Johnson is a controversial figure, he’s still an incumbent who won a close race in 2016.

A Barnes win would be a huge coup for Democrats. He could help the party keep a majority in the Senate. He could also be part of a real Senate Democratic majority, as opposed to the tenuous control Democrats have now, always needing the votes of enigmatic Sens. Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.). Victories by Barnes and the Democrats’ Senate candidate in Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, would give the Democrats 52 seats in the chamber, as long as the party’s incumbents also win their races.

A Barnes win would also be a breakthrough — a progressive winning in a purple state; a Black person winning a U.S. Senate seat (only 11 African Americans have ever served in the chamber); a Black person winning a U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin for the first time ever.