Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry enters U.S. Senate race with endorsements from several top Milwaukee Democrats

Alex Lasry, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president, hugs workers after last year's announcement of a labor agreement between Fiserv Forum and the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization Union.

Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, who helped lure the 2020 Democratic National Convention to Milwaukee, entered the race for U.S. Senate Wednesday with a vow to bring “a fresh perspective and a new way of thinking” to the nation’s capital.

In a four-minute video announcing his candidacy, Lasry received the backing of several top Milwaukee Democrats, including Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson.

Even though the seat isn’t up until 2022, the race has already started and will likely be among the more high-profile contests in the nation.

Lasry is the second candidate in the Democratic field, joining Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson.

Others who are considering candidacies include state treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Steven Olikara, founder and CEO of Millennial Action Project. State Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee and former Congressional candidate Randy Bryce are also weighing their options.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lasry sharply criticized the incumbent, Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who has yet to announce if he’ll run for a third term.

“What we’ve had for the last 10 years is a senator who hasn’t been representing the people of Wisconsin, who has been more interested in peddling in conspiracy theories and appealing to our worst instincts and impulses,” Lasry said.

Lasry said he is someone who “can get things done” and pointed to his work with the Bucks on labor and social justice issues.

“We’re not just talking about a $15 minimum wage, we’re paying it,” he said.

Lasry, 33, is a New York native and son of Marc Lasry, a hedge fund billionaire and one of the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks.

A senior vice president with the team, Lasry said he will take a leave of absence from the position for the duration of the campaign. He was a former aide in Barack Obama’s White House. He helped spearhead Milwaukee’s 2020 convention bid and was finance chair for the host committee. The event ended up being dramatically scaled back because of the coronavirus pandemic.

His entry into the race comes just weeks after he faced a storm of criticism when he received a COVID-19 vaccine at Ovation Chai Point Senior Living on Milwaukee’s east side.

“I’ve got a pregnant wife and made a decision at that moment to protect my wife and family and ensure that a shot didn’t go to waste,” he said.

Lasry said he will “invest” in his campaign while also promising a strong fundraising operation to reach out to small donors.

In his announcement video, Lasry embraces his role with the Bucks and his ties to Milwaukee. He points to the successes surrounding the construction of Fiserv Forum and relying on “progressive values to create a strong and profitable business.”

The video also shows Lasry marching in support of Jacob Blake, the Black man shot by a white police officer in Kenosha.

Besides Crowley and Johnson, Lasry receives endorsements in the video from Martha Love and Khary Penebaker, who are both members of the Democratic National Committee, and JoCasta Zamarripa, a Milwaukee Common Council member and former state legislator.

The Democratic field is far from settled in what is shaping up to be a dramatic race.

Godlewski’s potential entry could be a pivotal moment.

“We are watching the Wisconsin senate race closely and are always thrilled to see strong women leaders like Sarah Godlewski consider running in these critical seats,” said Ben Ray, spokesman for Emily’s List, a national group with a significant fundraising apparatus to elect Democratic women candidates.

For his part, Nelson tweeted that he welcomed “Alex Lasry to the race as we all stand united to beat Ron Johnson. I don’t think anyone should buy a Senate seat. I challenge Alex or any candidate including Johnson to not ‘invest’ their own money or their family’s in their campaign. Wis. looks forward to his response.” 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee also weighed in on Lasry’s entry to the race.

In a statement, the group’s communications director Chris Hartline said: “Wisconsin doesn’t need a spoiled rich kid like Alex Lasry who thinks it’s okay to use his wealth and power to cut in line ahead of vulnerable, elderly Wisconsinites to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as he did last month. Wisconsin deserves better — a Senator who will always put their constituents before themselves, not the other way around.”