J Street founder mounts congressional bid

J Street founder mounts congressional bid

Scion of famed Wisconsin Jewish family, Dan Kohl faces uphill battle against hard-line incumbent in solidly Republican district

Dan Kohl addressing the annual J Street Gala Dinner, February 7, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Dan Kohl addressing the annual J Street Gala Dinner, February 7, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)

WASHINGTON — A founder of J Street and a scion of a famed Wisconsin family has announced he is running for Congress as a Democrat in a district seen as solidly Republican.

Launching his candidacy last week, Dan Kohl emphasized his role in helping to start J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East lobby.

“Seeking to reground American foreign policy in the wake of the Iraq War, Dan joined J Street as Vice President of Political Affairs in 2009, and oversaw the development of the nation’s largest pro-Israel political action committee,” said the note on his campaign website’s biography page.

Kohl is a lawyer who has worked as an executive on the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA team his uncle Herb Kohl bought in 1985 to keep it from moving out of the city. The elder Kohl, who served as a US senator from 1989 to 2013 and an heir to the Kohl’s department store chain, sold the team in 2014.

Dan Kohl has also been on National Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee, on the board of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and a chairman of the Milwaukee Jewish Day School.

Kohl’s bid looks like a long shot for now: the district, covering a large swath of the Lake Michigan coast and rural inland counties north of Milwaukee, voted for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of 55 percent to 38 percent. The incumbent, Glenn Grothman, defeated a more moderate Republican in the 2014 primary.

Heartened by Trump’s low popularity scores as president and hoping to taint Republican majorities in Congress with Trump, Democrats are expected to mount an aggressive bid to retake both chambers in 2018.

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