By Jeffrey Decker

The senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks wants to be the junior senator of Wisconsin.

On Wednesday, Alex Lasry, one of five democratic candidates flooding the 2022 election as a logjam builds behind Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, campaigned in Wausau. Republican campaigns won’t launch unless Sen. Johnson formally announces his retirement. So far, the Republican lawmaker hasn’t made a final decision on 2022 but told the Wisconsin State Journal in March that leaving office is “probably his preference.

The primary ballot will grow larger, Marathon County Supervisor John Robinson predicted. At Lasry’s appearance in the beer garden of Whitewater Music Hall, 130 First St., Wausau, Robinson pointed to an announcement this week that Chris Larson, a Milwaukee state senator, jumped into the race.

Robinson’s been elected state representative and Wausau mayor in the past. Now, he hopes votes are earned in person on the ground, at front porches and county fairs with “retail politics” in north central Wisconsin.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had candidates really do that effectively,” Robinson said.

Competitors in the Aug. 16, 2022 primary election can join until June 1 next year. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson are on the ballot, and so is Wausau Radiologist Dr. Gillian Battino. The political newcomer is turning her empathy and complex health care insight into the election.

“She is active and is getting people excited,” said Marathon County Democratic Party Chairperson Kody Hart.

Exact differences between Battino and Lasry are hard to know, said her campaign manager Alex Heaton, because his policy positions are not on his website.

The site does list Lasry’s civic involvement and his lead role bringing the 2020 Democratic National Convention to Milwaukee, plus his support for sustainable wages and good benefits while leading a strong basketball team. The site also mentions progressive values that Lasry believes are good for business.

In person he spoke specifics.

“Legalize weed,” Lasry said. “We’re about to be sandwiched by all these other states that are legalizing and they’re going to get the economic benefits.”

Lasry noted that Congress can’t simply decriminalize marijuana while the filibuster remains in place. Senate rules let any member block action with just the threat of a long-winded speech. Only 60 of all 100 senators can together roll over that barrier, and that happens only very rarely.

“People keep asking why we aren’t getting anything done,” Lasry said. “I believe the filibuster keeps politicians from being responsive.”

Lasry said he would respond to policing issues by stripping some protections after citizens are injured or killed by police, ending qualified immunity.

After growing up in New York Lasry earned a master’s degree there in business administration and worked as an analyst for financial heavyweight Goldman Sachs. Prior to joining the Bucks, Alex worked at the White House as the deputy counselor for strategic engagement.

Three weeks ago he won the race’s first major endorsement, from the Wisconsin Teamster’s Union.

Lasry is the senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks. He lives in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood with his wife Lauren, who is chief of staff for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. His father, Marc Lasry, is co-owner of the Bucks.