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ELECTION 2022 | US SENATE

Alex Lasry exits U.S. Senate race after spending over $12 million, endorses Mandela Barnes

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Less than two weeks before the Aug. 9 primary, Democrat Alex Lasry exited the U.S. Senate race Thursday and endorsed front-runner Mandela Barnes, all but guaranteeing the lieutenant governor will face U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in November.

The only remaining Democratic candidate besides Barnes who has polled above 1% in the Marquette Law School Poll is state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, who had 9% support in the latest poll to Barnes’ 25% and Lasry’s 21%. Godlewski told reporters on Wednesday that she would remain in the race.

Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, who had polled at 7%, dropped out of the race on Monday and also endorsed Barnes.

“I’m calling for all Wisconsin Democrats to come together now behind Mandela and make sure we have a laser focus on beating Ron Johnson and reelecting Governor Tony Evers this November,” Lasry said in a statement.

Lasry had spent more than $12 million on a campaign focused on raising wages and building unions, running largely on his past actions as an executive for the Bucks, which his father co-owns. The husband of Planned Parenthood for Wisconsin’s chief of staff, Lasry had also run on enshrining women’s right to an abortion in federal law.

“I am so grateful to Alex for all of the work he’s done to move Wisconsin forward, and I’m proud to have his endorsement,” Barnes said in a statement. “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’s done to bring pride and opportunity to Milwaukee, a city we both love.”

Lasry formerly worked as a White House aide in several capacities during former President Barack Obama’s time in office. Born in New York City, Lasry moved to Milwaukee in 2014 when his billionaire father became the Bucks’ co-owner. Aside from working for the Bucks, Lasry led efforts to bring the 2020 Democratic National Convention to Milwaukee — an event that was significantly scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As Alex Lasry departs from the primary — or maybe to New York — Mandela Barnes’ radical agenda and far-left endorsements will ensure a third term for Senator Ron Johnson,” Republican National Committee spokesperson Rachel Reisner said in a statement.

Throughout the campaign, his Democratic opponents took frequent shots at the amount of money Lasry poured into the race. Barnes said Wisconsin needs to elect somebody who isn’t a millionaire.

Calling Lasry a wealthy candidate out of touch with Wisconsinites, Nelson had said Democrats would have to scrap a key talking point against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ potential Republican challenger, millionaire construction executive Tim Michels, if Lasry were to win the Democratic primary. In May, Lasry received an extension that enabled him not to report his vast financial assets until after the August primary.

“It’s clear Tom Nelson graciously stepping aside to endorse Mandela Barnes meant Alex Lasry had no path to victory,” Nelson’s campaign manager Irene Lin said in a statement. “Now we will all work together to unite behind Mandela Barnes and defeat America’s worst senator in Ron Johnson.”

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