Wisconsin Businessman Jumps Into Race Against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin

The GOP likely got a huge boost on Feb. 20 in its hopes of unseating the incumbent progressive as businessman Eric Hovde threw his hat into the ring.
Wisconsin Businessman Jumps Into Race Against Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) speaks at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on Dec. 8, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Jackson Richman

The GOP raised its hopes of unseating incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) as wealthy businessman Eric Hovde announced his candidacy on Feb. 20.

“Do you feel like America’s slipping away? Our country is facing enormous challenges,” he said in a 30-second video.

“Our economy, our health care, crime, and open borders. Everything is going in the wrong direction. All Washington does is divide us and talk about who’s to blame and nothing gets done. That’s not the country I know and love.”

Multiple media outlets reported ahead of his announcement that the mustached Mr. Hovde would jump into the race to challenge Ms. Baldwin, a progressive who has been in the Senate since 2013.

The 2024 Senate map favors the GOP, which is looking to take back the upper congressional chamber that the Democrats have controlled since 2021.

Mr. Hovde, whose net worth is an estimated $531 million, is an entrepreneur, banker, and real estate mogul. He is expected to self-finance his campaign, his second since his unsuccessful Senate run in 2012 when he failed to capture the GOP nomination.
Other candidates running in the Aug. 13 GOP primary include Trempealeau County Supervisor Stacey Klein, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point College Republicans Chair Rejani Raveendran, and retired U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Maj. Patrick Schaefer-Wicke.

Other GOPers Take a Pass

Mr. Hovde’s entry comes as other notable Wisconsin Republicans including former Gov. Scott Walker and Reps. Bryan Steil, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Tiffany passed on a senatorial run.
“While Tammy Baldwin is vulnerable due to her record as a rubber stamp for President Biden, I can make the greatest impact continuing to serve the great people of Wisconsin in the House of Representatives,” said Mr. Tiffany in a statement to Politico last year.
“Congressman Steil is focused on his work in the House limiting spending and saving taxpayers money,” campaign spokesperson James Langnes told The Badger Project, a nonprofit Wisconsin news outlet. “He plans on running for reelection to the House in 2024. He is not running for the Senate.”

Mr. Walker has endorsed Mr. Hovde.

At a time when so many voters are upset with politicians in Washington who seem bought and paid for, a businessman who’s not beholden to anyone would be appealing to hardworking taxpayers,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Mr. Gallagher announced earlier this month that he will not run for re-election.

“The Framers intended citizens to serve in Congress for a season and then return to their private lives. Electoral politics was never supposed to be a career and, trust me, Congress is no place to grow old. And so, with a heavy heart, I have decided not to run for re-election,” he said in a statement.

Ms. Baldwin won re-election in 2018, defeating Republican Leah Vukmir, 55 percent to 45 percent, while the GOP grew its majority in the Senate by two seats.

While Mr. Hovde’s entry might be welcomed by Republicans looking to send Ms. Baldwin packing, he has work to do in getting his name out there.

More than eight in 10 Wisconsin voters have not heard of Mr. Hovde, according to a Marquette University Law School poll.

“If Eric Hovde defeats me, he'd help Mitch McConnell and national Republicans ban abortion nationwide, gut Social Security + Medicare, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and cut taxes for rich people like themselves while raising taxes on middle-class families. Those are the stakes,” posted Ms. Baldwin on X.
Ms. Baldwin also posted on X that “this will be my most competitive and expensive race yet.”

Playing the California Card

Wisconsin Democrats have anticipated Mr. Hovde’s entry into the race, calling him “California Hovde,” as the multimillionaire has a home in the Golden State.

“California bank owner Eric Hovde is running for Senate to impose his self-serving agenda, putting ultra-rich people like himself ahead of middle-class Wisconsinites,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Rapid Response Director Arik Wolk in a Feb. 20 statement.

“Hovde would vote to pass a national abortion ban, raise taxes on working families and seniors while cutting Social Security and Medicare, and repeal the Affordable Care Act,” he continued.

“California Hovde is set up for a bruising primary battle with fellow GOP megamillionaire Scott Mayer, but his self-serving agenda and attacks on Wisconsinites’ freedoms are exactly why Wisconsinites will reject him and send him back to his $7 million California mansion.”

As of now, it is uncertain whether Mr. Mayer, who has not declared his candidacy, will enter the Senate race.

Jackson Richman is a Washington correspondent for The Epoch Times. In addition to Washington politics, he covers the intersection of politics and sports/sports and culture. He previously was a writer at Mediaite and Washington correspondent at Jewish News Syndicate. His writing has also appeared in The Washington Examiner. He is an alum of George Washington University.
Related Topics