By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Alex Lasry was feeling frustrated. There was a lack of action happening in Washington, he said, and as someone who likes to get things done this was unacceptable. So, in February 2021, Lasry announced he was running for the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson.
“I’ve seen the good that government can do and the bad when you have the wrong people there,” Lasry said. “What frustrated me recently is the inaction and the fact that things aren’t getting done.”
Wisconsin’s senate race is one of great anticipation. There are currently a plethora of candidates vying for spots in the general election. On the Democratic side, candidates include Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis (District 9) and more. Johnson himself recently announced he will be running for re-election.
The primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 9 and the general election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Unlike a majority of the candidates in this race, Lasry is not a politician, although he does have experience in Washington. He interned on the Hill and worked in Barack Obama’s White House as an aid to Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor and assistant to the president in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.
“It was an incredible opportunity to see how Washington works, see how policies get made and see how when you have the right people and good people in government, really good things can happen,” he said.
As far as this race is concerned, Lasry believes not being a politician is a positive attribute. Johnson has done nothing but enrich himself and his friends, Lasry said, and he has a track record of perpetuating conspiracy theories.
“The people are looking for change and are looking for someone who’s got that track record of accomplishments,” he said.
Lasry said that through his work he’s been able to have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. One example of this is the role he played in the construction of the Fiserv Forum.
Lasry is the current senior vice president for the Milwaukee Bucks, his father is one of the owners.
During the stadium’s construction, Lasry ensured that unemployed and underemployed workers were being hired. This work included making sure that they were being paid a good wage and had good union jobs. These efforts have since extended to the employees who operate the arena.
They are from the city and from some of the hardest hit ZIP codes, he said.
Labor unions and workers’ rights are two of the main issues that Lasry is running on. His campaign is the only unionized campaign staff in the race, he said.
“We’re not about talking issues,” he said. “We’re living them and putting them into practice. I think that’s the difference between a career politician, and someone like me.”
It’s one of the most important issues that Wisconsin is facing, he said, that is how to raise wages and bring more jobs and investment to Wisconsin. The economy has been growing but wages and workers’ rights haven’t, he said.
Through his travels around the state, he’s found that everyone wants a job that pays well and that has benefits. The crux of this campaign is putting more money back into people’s pockets, he said.
“At the end of the day, one of the best things we can do is make sure that everyone can be a part of that dignity of work that President Biden talked about,” he said.
Lasry said that other major issues in the race include supply chain issues, climate change, racial and social justice, and of course, voting rights.
Last week on Wednesday, Jan. 5, Lasry released his plan to strengthen democracy. His plan includes expanding voting rights act by passing the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, ending partisan gerrymandering, protecting elections from foreign interference, and promoting democracy abroad.
Republican legislatures are trying to limit people’s rights, he said, but everyone has the right to vote and know that their vote counts.
As the race for the U.S. Senate looms ahead, Lasry remains confident in his campaign.
“We’re extremely proud of how the campaign is going and we’re thrilled about the momentum that we have,” he said. “We’re talking about the issues that matter to all Wisconsinites, which is most importantly how are we going to make sure that people have good jobs that pay a living wage with good benefits.”