First Alex Lasry discovered that Milwaukee had restaurants. With that out of the way, now he wants to be your United States Senator.
Is anybody else tired of billionaires trying to buy Senate seats or governor’s offices? How about the sons of billionaires?
Alex Lasry, 33, is barely qualified to be elected to the State Assembly, but he wants to skip the line and go straight to Washington. Lasry’s sole claim to high office is his dad’s money. His father, Marc Lasry, is an owner of the Milwaukee Bucks. The elder Lasry made his fortune as a Wall Street hedge fund operator. He’s also a big Democratic fundraiser, which landed his son an internship in the Obama White House and a job at Goldman Sachs. (Alex Lasry is apparently embarrassed by that second gig, which is why it doesn’t appear on his official bio.)
There is nothing in Alex’s resume to suggest that he’s accomplished anything at all on his own or because he wasn’t the son of a billionaire.
To make matters worse, Lasry’s father held up the taxpayers of Milwaukee and Wisconsin to help pay for the Bucks’ new arena. They never even tried to make a case that they actually needed the money. Their case was based on the argument that the NBA demanded that all communities that aspire to a franchise must pay tribute.
Here is how out of touch Lasry is with Wisconsin. He never even visited the state until 2008. When he came here a few years later with his father to negotiate the sale of the Bucks with owner Herb Kohl (we’ll get to Herb in a minute) he was surprised to find that Milwaukee had actual restaurants and bars, just like New York has.
In a story in The Intercept, Lasry is quoted as saying, “The only places I had lived in prior were New York, Philly, and D.C. — so kind of bigger East Coast cities. And when I came here, I think what most surprised me about Milwaukee is the fact that Milwaukee has all the same things as any city, especially any big city, has,” he continued.
Shazam, Alex! And we also have running water — both hot and cold — and electricity (which is more than you can say for Texas these days) and the streets are paved — okay, so not with gold like Wall Street, but just paved!
It appears that this kind of political cluelessness is going to be an ongoing problem for Lasry’s handlers. Just days before his planned announcement of his candidacy Lasry got an offer to skip the line to get a COVID vaccine. Actually, there was nothing at all wrong with that. A vaccination site in Milwaukee had extras and he was invited to get one. But then he Tweeted about it. He didn’t know how this was going to look?
His potential opponent in a general election, Sen. Ron Johnson, was all over it the minute Lasry announced. That’s not going to let up. “Alex Lasry is the kind of guy who used his wealth and connections to cut the line to get a COVID shot before more vulnerable Wisconsinites,” Johnson said in a statement. “What more do you need to know about him?”
Well, I don’t know. That he worked for Goldman Sachs? That he knows there are restaurants in Milwaukee? Does that help?
Now, you might ask how Lasry is any different from Herb Kohl, also a Bucks owner and a billionaire, who represented Wisconsin in the Senate for four terms.
I can answer that. There’s no comparison at all. Herb was a Wisconsin guy through and through. He grew up here working in his family’s grocery stores. He inherited a modestly successful business and expanded it into a national chain of department stores. He was a skilled and hard-working businessman and a generous philanthropist. And when he first ran for the Senate, at age 54, he had the experience and the deep Wisconsin roots that made his candidacy about more than just his money.
My point is that I’m not automatically opposed to any billionaire running for office. Success in business is a good thing and it can be valuable in public service. But it’s one thing to work for and to build your own success; it’s another thing for it to be just given to you.
Look, I’m nothing if not a realist. If Lasry buys the Democratic nomination and if his opponent is the odious Ron Johnson (who also had his money handed to him, by the way) I’ll vote for Lasry, no question.
But, please Democrats, give me a better choice.