At a Glance
- Career History: Chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party (1975 to 1977)
- Birthday: Feb. 7, 1935
- Hometown: Milwaukee, Wis.
- Alma Mater: University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1956; Harvard University, M.B.A., 1958
- Spouse: Single
- Religion: Jewish
- DC Office: 330 Hart Senate Office Building, 202-224-5653
- State Office: Milwaukee, 414-297-4451; Eau Claire, 715-832-8424; Madison, 608-264-5338; Appleton, 920-738-1640; La Crosse, 608-796-0045
- Web site
Path to Power
Kohl spent much of his childhood working in his family's grocery in Milwaukee. His parents emigrated from Eastern Europe in the 1920s, launching a food store that soon sprouted into a chain of more than 50 stores.
Early on, Kohl was interested in the family business. After earning his MBA from Harvard Business School, he pursued a career in real estate and investing, eventually launching his own company. In 1970, Kohl was named president of his family's business, a position he held until 1979.
During Kohl's fourth swearing-in ceremony, he vowed to tackle prescription drug prices and to protect small business owners and dairy farmers. This legislative agenda is typical for Kohl, who has emphasized projects that help Wisconsin.
Kohl is an economic populist and social moderate. True to his quiet nature, he rarely threatens a filibuster or obstructs Senate proceedings.
Kohl has spoken out repeatedly in favor of bipartisanship, and he has the Republican Senate allies to prove it. Kohl bought a Wyoming ranch from ex-Sen. Clifford Hansen (R-Wyo.), who served from 1967 to 1978. Kohl is friendly with all the members of the Wisconsin delegation. This year, he worked with Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) to secure additional funding for public schools and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He has also built a powerhouse of current and former staffers. Paul Bock, his former chief of staff, was instrumental in creating weekly staff meetings for all of the Democrats' legislative heads. Former aide Gordon Hintz went on to win a seat in the Wisconsin Assembly.