Lasry is the second Wisconsin Democrat to challenge Johnson, joining Tom Nelson, the county executive of Outagamie County just outside of Green Bay. Others are expected to join the field of Democratic candidates in the election, which is not until 2022 and could be one of the more high-profile races in the country. The last two presidential elections in Wisconsin have been exceedingly close, with Donald Trump winning by slightly more than 22,000 votes in 2016 and Joe Biden edging Trump by fewer than 21,000 votes last year.
Johnson, 65, is one of Trump’s most stalwart defenders. In 2016 pledged not to serve a third term in the Senate but later backed off that promise; he also has not ruled out challenging Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) in 2022. Johnson voted against the second impeachment of Trump, held hearings devoted to debunked claims of “election irregularities” related to the 2020 presidential campaign and has said he believes Americans have been “snookered into this mass hysteria” about the coronavirus pandemic.
“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 told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Bucks’ players and executives have shown a commitment to social justice issues over the past few years. In August, the team became the first in modern NBA history to refuse to take the court, declining to play an NBA playoff game against the Miami Heat to protest racial injustice in the wake of Blake’s shooting by police in Kenosha, about 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
Lasry tweeted his support of the players at the time of their protest.
Team co-owners Marc Lasry (Alex Lasry’s father), Jamie Dinan and Wes Edens also have donated heavily to Democratic political candidates and causes, a rarity among U.S. pro-sports owners. Before the Bucks’ current ownership group took control in 2014, the team was owned by Herb Kohl, who served as a Democratic U.S. senator from 1989 to 2013.
Alex Lasry served as an aide in the administration of President Barack Obama and spearheaded Milwaukee’s successful attempt to land the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which was significantly pared down because of the pandemic.
He spurred controversy last month when it was revealed he had received the coronavirus vaccine despite not having any underlying conditions or being among the front-line workers who were slated to first receive the shots. Lasry explained that his wife’s uncle, a rabbi at a Milwaukee senior-living center, had called her about having extra, unused doses of the vaccine. Lasry’s wife declined the shot because she is pregnant, so the Bucks executive received the vaccine so it would not go to waste.
“I just got lucky,” Lasry told the Journal Sentinel.