Herb Kohl

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Herb Kohl
Herbert Kohl, official photo.jpg
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
In office
January 3, 1989 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by William Proxmire
Succeeded by Tammy Baldwin
Chairperson of the Senate Aging Committee
In office
January 4, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Gordon Smith
Succeeded by Bill Nelson
Personal details
Born (1935-02-07) February 7, 1935 (age 79)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Wisconsin, Madison
Harvard University
Religion Judaism
Signature
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1958–1964
Unit Army Reserve

Herbert H. "Herb" Kohl (born February 7, 1935) is an American businessman and politician. He is a former United States Senator from Wisconsin and a member of the Democratic Party. He is also a philanthropist and the former owner of the Milwaukee Bucks National Basketball Association (NBA) team. He did not seek reelection in 2012 and his term ended on January 3, 2013. He was succeeded by fellow Democrat Tammy Baldwin.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Kohl was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Mary (née Hiken) and Max Kohl. His father was a Polish Jewish immigrant and his mother was a Russian Jewish immigrant.[1][2] He attended Washington High School. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1956 and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School in 1958. While an undergraduate, he joined the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. He was also a roommate of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.[3] Between 1958 and 1964, Kohl was a member of the United States Army Reserve.

After finishing graduate school, Kohl worked as an investor in real estate and the stock market, eventually spinning off his own company, Kohl Investments, to manage these assets. He and his brother became heir to a family-owned chain that included 50 grocery stores and several department stores, pharmacies, and liquor stores. In 1970, Kohl was named President of Kohl's and he helped to oversee the merger of his corporation with BATUS Inc. in 1972. Kohl stayed on as an executive until 1979. Before his election to the Senate, Kohl helped build his family-owned business, Kohl's grocery and department stores. He served as president from 1970 until the sale of the corporation in 1979.

In 1985, Kohl purchased the Milwaukee Bucks from Jim Fitzgerald to ensure the team remained in Milwaukee. In 2003, he considered an offer to sell the team to former NBA superstar Michael Jordan, but decided to retain ownership. On April 16, 2014, Kohl agreed to sell the Bucks for $550 million to New York-based billionaires Wesley Edens & Marc Lasry; the team will remain in Milwaukee. Kohl was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007.

Early political career[edit]

Kohl served as Chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party between 1975 and 1977.

U.S. Senate[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Kohl has been described as left-of center and with some libertarian tendencies.[4]

Kohl supported President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009,[5] and he voted for the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.[6]

Fiscal policy[edit]

He has voted in favor of most lawsuit reform measures as well as for rules tightening personal bankruptcy. He has long supported amending the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced budget. He was one of the few Democrats to vote for the tax cut passed in 2001, and he also supported the elimination of the "marriage penalty." Despite these views, he has been seen as generally supportive of progressive taxation. Like many moderate Democrats, he voted in favor of the welfare reform measures in the mid-1990s. He is also not opposed to the creation of individual, private savings accounts to supplement Social Security.[4]

Kohl has generally had a pro-environmental record and has been an outspoken proponent of American energy independence. He supports increased production of hydrogen cars, establishing a federal goal for reducing oil consumption by 40 percent, and disallowing oil speculation in protected areas. However, he has voted against Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. Kohl has been rated highly by groups that desire universal health care. He has voted in favor of expanding Medicare and SCHIP and has desired that prescription drugs be included under federal health coverage. During his most recent election campaign, Kohl advocated that HMOs be placed under more scrutiny in order to determine if they're effectively delivering care.[4]

Social policy[edit]

Kohl is strongly pro-choice and opposes the death penalty. He is highly in favor of affirmative action and supports setting aside funds for women and minorities. Although he voted in favor of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, Kohl rejected the recent proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman and has supported measures that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. Kohl has consistently voted against the flag desecration amendment and in recent years has voted against restrictions on travel to Cuba and funding for TV Martí. In 2005 he secured a victory for one of his main causes: requiring handguns to be sold with child safety locks. The amendment was attached to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, with every Democrat and many Republicans voting in favor of the amendment. Earlier in his career, he helped push the Gun-Free Schools Act which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned in 1995 and has submitted many amendments to that effect.[7] He is a strong supporter of public education and has rejected school vouchers. Kohl has voted in favor of allowing for the establishment of educational savings accounts.

Foreign policy[edit]

Kohl has voted against many free trade agreements including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and more recently the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and voted against the Freedom to Farm Act in 1996. However, he has also supported fast tracking trade normalization with China and establishing free trade with some smaller countries of the developing world. He voted in 2002 to authorize military force in Iraq; however, he voted against authorizing the Gulf War in 1990. Kohl has voted on a number of occasions with more liberal Democrats to reduce military spending, voting against 1996 defense appropriations increases and supporting a veto of funding new military projects. Despite having been among the 98 U.S. Senators who voted for the PATRIOT Act, Kohl subsequently opposed this legislation and has voted to require warrants for wiretapping or the detention of prisoners.[4]

Political campaigns[edit]

Kohl won election to the U.S. Senate in 1988 with his trademark catchphrase "Nobody's Senator But Yours".[8] He was reelected in 1994, 2000 and 2006. He did not seek reelection in 2012.

Electoral history[edit]

United States Senate election in Wisconsin, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Herb Kohl (incumbent) 1,439,214 67.31
Republican Robert Lorge 630,299 29.48
Green Rae Vogeler 42,434 1.98
Independent Ben J. Glatzel 25,096 1.17
United States Senate election in Wisconsin, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Herb Kohl (incumbent) 1,563,238 61.54
Republican John Gillespie 940,744 37.04
United States Senate election in Wisconsin, 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Herb Kohl (incumbent) 912,662 58.29
Republican Bob Welch 636,989 40.69
United States Senate election in Wisconsin, 1988
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Herb Kohl 1,128,625 52.08
Republican Susan Engeleiter 1,030,440 47.55
Wisconsin U.S. Senate Election 1988 – Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Herb Kohl 249,226 46.78
Democratic Tony Earl 203,479 38.19
Democratic Ed Garvey 55,225 10.37
Democratic Doug La Follette 19,819 3.72

Personal life[edit]

With an estimated net worth in 2005 of $279 million, Kohl was one of the wealthiest U.S. Senators.[9] He has donated $25 million to the University of Wisconsin–Madison for construction of its new sports arena, which was named the Kohl Center. It was the largest single donation in University of Wisconsin System history.[citation needed] In 1990 he established the Herb Kohl Educational Foundation Achievement Award Program, which provides annual grants totaling $100,000 to 100 graduating seniors, 100 teachers and 100 schools throughout Wisconsin.

On May 13, 2011, Kohl announced he would not run for reelection in 2012, saying, "The office doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the people of Wisconsin, and there is something to be said for not staying in office too long,"[10]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jim Fitzgerald
Owner of the Milwaukee Bucks
1985–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
William Proxmire
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
(Class 1)

1988, 1994, 2000, 2006
Succeeded by
Tammy Baldwin
United States Senate
Preceded by
William Proxmire
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Wisconsin
1989–2013
Served alongside: Bob Kasten, Russ Feingold, Ron Johnson
Succeeded by
Tammy Baldwin
Preceded by
Gordon Smith
Chairperson of the Senate Aging Committee
2007–2013
Succeeded by
Bill Nelson