Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry is set to drop out of Wisconsin’s Democratic Senate primary on Wednesday, sources confirmed to HuffPost ― exiting a contest he already poured $12 million of his own money into, and solidifying progressive Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ position as the race’s front-runner.
Lasry will endorse Barnes, the sources said. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported Lasry’s decision.
Democrats in the state viewed Lasry, a former White House aide and the son of Bucks owner Marc Lasry, as the candidate with the best shot of defeating Barnes in the Aug. 9 primary to determine who will face GOP Sen. Ron Johnson in November.
The most recent poll from Marquette University Law School had found Barnes earning 25% of the vote to Lasry’s 21%, with more than a third of the electorate undecided. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski was earning 9% of the vote, and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson was earning 7%.
Nelson, who was running as a progressive, dropped out of the race on Monday, citing the financial impossibility of running against both Lasry and Godlewski, who have each poured millions of dollars of their own money into the contest. Nelson and Lasry’s exits have the combined effect of solidifying Barnes’ position as the front-runner in the contest, though Godlewski remains in the race.
Johnson is unpopular in public polling, and Wisconsin is seen as one of the only opportunities for Democrats to pick up a Senate seat in a difficult midterm environment.
Some Democrats, however, fear that Barnes’ positions on immigration, criminal justice and other issues will be too liberal for the Wisconsin electorate. Barnes, whose campaign has played up his working-class roots, would be the first Black person sent to the Senate from Wisconsin.
Lasry spent millions on television ads that touted his role in the construction of the Bucks’ new arena and portrayed him as a problem solver, but he faced blowback because of his self-funding and because he did not move to Wisconsin until after his father purchased the Bucks in 2014.