The Long Way From Sports Team Owner to U.S. Senator

Milwaukee – When Alex Lasry dropped out of the Democratic primary to the Senate in Wisconsin on Wednesday, he said “there was no way to win” that no sports franchise owner ever wants to admit. He said he had come to the conclusion that he could not defeat the lieutenant. Gov. Mandela Barnes and urged voters to rally around Barnes to defeat Republican incumbent Senator Ron Johnson in November.

Lasry, 35, is the son of a billionaire owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and owns a stake worth more than $50 million. He has made the 2021 NBA champion team the centerpiece of his campaign, highlighting the work he has done as a Bucks executive to help create the Fiserv forum and raise union workers’ wages. He often donned zippers, vests, and other Bucks gear. Have even traveled the state with an NBA trophywhich drew criticism for using it as a campaign prop.

There are many former athletes and coaches who have jumped from the playing field or touchline to Capitol Hill: Bill Bradley, JC Watts, Tom Osborne and, most recently, Tommy Tuberville.

But it’s far less common for sports franchise owners whose faces aren’t as familiar to inspire the same level of electoral fanaticism.

Some owners found it hard not to mention the sport. During his unsuccessful Republican campaign for the Ohio State Senate, Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians, was criticized by former President Donald J. Trump over the team’s decision to change its name from “Indians,” which Trump derided as a politically correct sop.

And in Georgia, Kelly Leffler attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, so angry members WNBA team at the time, she admitted to the Atlanta Dream that they were campaigning against her. She lost her seat in the Senate to Raphael Warnock, whose opponent in 2022 is Herschel Walkerformer NFL running back.

Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, the Bucks’ previous owner, was the rare team owner to make it to Washington. But he was already known quantity through his family’s grocery stores and department stores, and as chairman of the state Democratic Party.

“Herb Kohl is interfering with the work,” said State Senator Chris Larson, a Milwaukee County Democrat who dropped out of the primaries last August and supported Barnes. “Lasri and his family were just trying to come and buy it.”

Alex Lasry grew up in Manhattan in a family Mark Lasry, hedge fund manager and Democratic fundraiser. A star point guard for his high school team who continues to play pickup basketball regularly, Alex Lasry moved to Milwaukee in 2014 after his father was part of a group that bought Bucks the same year from Kohl for 550 million dollars.

When he announced his candidacy for the Senate in February 2021, Alex Lasry had to overcome skepticism that his resume had few accomplishments and heavy on nepotism. By the end of June, he had taken a clean second place in the crowded field of longtime politicians. Marquette Law School Poll. He also amassed an impressive roster of supporters, including Cavalier Johnson, the mayor of Milwaukee, as well as labor leaders who saw him as a strong public presence.

Lasri was largely self-funding his campaign with a $12.3 million investment, although he initially pledged that depend on the support of the masses. In the second quarter of 2022, $6.7 million was spent on his campaign — or more than his Democratic rivals combined.

He also had high-profile sponsors from the sports world, such as Jerry Reinsdorf and Michael Reinsdorf of the Chicago Bulls, who lost to the Bucks in the playoffs this year, as well as Stephen Paluca and David Bonderman, owners of the Boston Celtics. the team that bounced off the bucks from the playoffs. The other members were Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA; Jason Kidd, Bucks coach, when Lasry arrived in Milwaukee; Casey Close, prominent sports agent; and Rachel Nichols, former ESPN broadcaster.

In his Senate disclosure form filed in August 2021, Lasri listed assets ranging from $100 million to $273 million. One investment was his partnership with Sazes Partners, the family holding company, records show.

Through Sazes, Lasry revealed that he owns Sessa Capital, a private equity fund worth between $5 million and $25 million. John Petri, founder of Sessa Capital, played in charity poker tournaments with Mark Lasry favor Education Reform Now, a non-profit advocacy group.

The Lasry family’s ties to Sazes did not become public prior to his withdrawal from the race, but they could cause a stir if it did. session is fourth largest shareholder of Chemoursmanufacturer PFAS, which have been linked to cancer and are often referred to as the “timeless chemicals”.“because they do not decompose in water. Chemours is among the companies being sued for environmental pollution, including last week by the US governor. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul or Wisconsin.

Asked about Lasry’s substantial family stake in a major Chemours shareholder, Christina Freindlich, a campaign spokeswoman, said Lasry applauded Evers and Kaul’s efforts to “hold all polluters accountable,” and that he called on Congress to pass the PFAS rules.

Regardless of. By Wednesday the game was over. At a press conference before the Fiserv Forum, Barnes praised Lasry’s campaign, saying he was leaving without making any new enemies.

This is a notable achievement for a politician or sports owner.

Kitty Bennett contributed to research.