In a stunning move with less than two weeks to go before the primary, Milwaukee Bucks leader Alex Lasry dropped out of the Democratic U.S. Senate race on Wednesday after spending more than $12.3 million on the contest.
In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lasry said he supported the frontrunner, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.
“Mandela won this race,” Lasry said.
An official announcement will take place at a press conference scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Lasry’s withdrawal put Barnes in the driver’s seat to win the Aug. 9 primary and face Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson in the fall.
Lasry has always been second in the polls behind Barnes. An internal Barnes poll his campaign released this week showed Barnes up 39% to 25% from Lasry.
Lasry said he spoke to Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin in recent days and contacted Barnes on Tuesday to advise him of the decision.
“After talking with Tammy and seeing the data, I think it was clear there was no way forward for us to win,” Lasry said.
“We wanted to make sure we could come together and rally our support to make sure we were spending every second we could to get Ron Johnson out of business,” he said. “Clearly the lieutenant governor will be the nominee.”
In a statement, Barnes said he was “grateful to Alex for all the work he has done to move Wisconsin forward, and I am proud to have his endorsement.”
“I deeply admire Alex’s commitment to creating good union jobs and raising wages throughout his career and throughout this campaign, and the work he has done to bring pride and opportunity to Milwaukee, a city we both love,” Barnes said in the statement.
“Throughout this run, I have always been proud to call Alex a friend. I look forward to continuing this friendship as we hit the track. Together, we will unite Wisconsinans from all corners of the state to defeat Ron Johnson.
Lasry’s exit is the second major move this week in the race. Outagamie County executive Tom Nelson retired on Monday.
Irene Lin, who led Nelson’s campaign, said Nelson’s withdrawal “means Alex Lasry has no path to victory. Now we can all work together to unite behind Mandela Barnes and defeat the worst.” US senator as Ron Johnson”.
State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is still in the running but trailed Barnes by double digits before Lasry and Nelson even pulled out of the contest. It did not air for much of June and July.
Lasry insiders have suggested that much of Godlewski’s support shifted to Barnes as she aired no TV ads, making it inevitable that the first lieutenant governor would secure the Democratic nomination.
Lasry, a New York native, came to Milwaukee eight years ago when his father, billionaire Marc Lasry, became a member of the Milwaukee Bucks ownership group.
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The team’s senior vice president, Lasry caused a stir locally when he helped lead Milwaukee’s effort to secure the 2020 Democratic National Convention. But the big show has become a mostly virtual event because of the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus.
Even before entering the race, Lasry was criticized nationally for receiving the coronavirus vaccine in January 2021 at a senior living center in Milwaukee, despite not being part of a a group currently eligible for vaccines in Wisconsin.
Announcing his race a month later, Lasry promised to invest in the race and donated more than $12.3 million to the contest. The infusion of cash allowed him to start airing TV commercials last fall, a move that has helped boost his identification in a bid to steadily close the gap to favorite Barnes.
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Lasry appeared to be making progress, with last month’s Marquette University Law School poll showing him within four percentage points of Barnes.
The building blocks of his campaign revolved around his work with the Milwaukee Bucks, building the Fiserv Forum, and the team’s $15 hourly minimum wage.
“We’re not just talking about a $15 minimum wage, we’re paying it,” Lasry said. Critics noted that pay didn’t start until 2020, with the Fiserv Forum maintaining a probationary six-month starting salary of $14 per hour.
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A constant refrain of Lasry during the election campaign was to “put money in the pockets of working people”. He also sought to run as a “Make-it-in-America” Democrat, promising to strengthen manufacturing.
He was able to earn major job endorsements and also received the support of Milwaukee’s two leaders, Mayor Cavalier Johnson and County Executive David Crowley.
But Lasry faced resistance from the party’s left-wing base and had to battle the perception by some that he was trying to buy the race.
Lasry told the Journal Sentinel he was “proud” of the “positive” campaign he led and the issues he raised.
Asked about his political future, Lasry said, “Whether it’s running for something in the future or just making sure we get Democrats elected from the top down, that’s something in which I will always be involved.
“But now I’m going to enjoy some well-deserved time out with my wife and daughter, get back to the Bucks and make sure we can do everything we can to win a championship and get Mandela elected, and Tony (Evers) elected and Josh (Kaul) elected.”
Contact Daniel Bice at (414) 313-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DanielBice or on Facebook at fb.me/daniel.bice.