Wall Street billionaire’s son Alex Lasry pledges to spend big in Wisconsin Senate race

Alex Lasry, the 34-year-old son of Wall Street billionaire Marc Lasry, has promised to spend heavily in his attempt to unseat the controversial Republican Ron Johnson as senator for Wisconsin.

Lasry has already contributed $5.8mn to his own campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission and said he was willing to spend more as he tries to win his party’s nomination and then the Senate seat in November’s midterm election.

He is one of a handful of Democrats vying to win next month’s primary and the chance to take on Johnson in what is likely to be one of the country’s most contested Senate races in November.

“We’re going to ensure that we’ve got the resources to be able to compete against Ron Johnson,” Lasry said in an interview. “Republicans are going to spend a ton of money on this race and we’ve got to make sure that the Republicans don’t win just because they out-message us.”

He said his personal wealth would be a selling point because it means he is less reliant on funds from outside donors than most other candidates. “One of the things that we’re showing with this campaign is that no one’s going to be able to buy me,” he said.

Democrats in Wisconsin will vote next month to pick who they want to stand against Johnson in November. Polls show Lasry is just a few points behind the frontrunner, Mandela Barnes, having closed a large gap in the past few months.

The national Democratic party believes Wisconsin is one of its best chances to take a Senate seat from the Republicans at the midterm elections, a result that is likely to prove crucial for the balance of power in the upper chamber.

Johnson has held the seat for over a decade, but in recent weeks has faced scrutiny for his role in trying to help former president Donald Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election.

He has also come under fire for his pro-gun positions, especially after the recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and Highland Park, Illinois. Polls show Johnson is running neck-and-neck with each of the four Democratic candidates.

Lasry’s background has given him resources unavailable to most candidates. His father Marc co-founded the $12bn asset manager Avenue Capital Group and helped buy the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team for $550mn in 2014.

According to his latest financial declaration, Alex Lasry, who is the team’s senior vice-president, owns an interest worth more than $50mn. He has previously worked for Goldman Sachs and in the White House under Barack Obama, to whom his father donated thousands of dollars and raised hundreds of thousands more.

Lasry’s wealth has marked him out as a candidate for other Democrats to target, however, with Tom Nelson, one of his rivals for the nomination, referring to him as an “out-of-state billionaire” during a debate.

Despite his Wall Street background, Lasry has staked out a series of leftwing political positions, including backing a $15 minimum wage and higher taxes for large companies.

“I think corporations and the wealthy need to pay their fair share,” he said. “For too long people and companies have been able to get away with it, and we’ve seen it in a number of Fortune 500 companies not paying any taxes.”

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