Republican Wisconsin Senate candidate Hovde launches first campaign ad

By SCOTT BAUER Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde is launching his first television ad of the race, part of a seven-figure statewide buy his campaign said Monday will include multiple spots over the next month.

Hovde, a multimillionaire businessman, is running to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. She has yet to run an ad in the race, despite officially announcing her reelection bid for a third term nearly a year ago in April 2023. Hovde’s first spot, which will air Tuesday, is the same one he made public on his website when he launched his campaign last week.

In the ad, Hovde cites the economy, crime, health care and “open borders” as problems facing the country. He does not mention Baldwin or Wisconsin in the spot.

“Everything is going in the wrong direction,” Hovde says in the ad. “All Washington does is divide us and talk about who’s to blame and nothing gets done.”

Baldwin’s campaign spokesperson, Andrew Mamo, had no comment. But Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesperson Arik Wolk criticized Hovde for not mentioning Wisconsin in the opening spot.

“Wisconsinites shouldn’t be surprised that a $2.8 billion California bank owner trying to buy a Senate seat in Wisconsin failed to even mention the name of the state he’s running to represent in his opening ad,” Wolk said.

Hovde bought a $7 million luxury estate in Laguna Beach, California, in 2018 and also owns a home in Madison, where he was born and raised.

Hovde has lined up support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but other Republicans are considering challenging him for the nomination. Scott Mayer, a Franklin businessman, and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke are also considering Senate runs.

Two lesser-known Republicans are also running: Trempealeau County Board Supervisor Stacey Klein and Rejani Raveendran, a 40-year-old college student and chair of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College Republicans.

Baldwin won reelection in 2018 by 11 percentage points and her winning this year is critical for Democratic hopes to maintain majority control of the Senate. Democrats are defending 23 seats in the Senate in November, including two held by independents who caucus with Democrats. That’s compared with just 11 seats that Republicans hope to keep in their column.