My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I’m all in on Hovde. Here’s a part.
In 2012, this column supported Eric Hovde in the Republican primary to challenge Representative Tammy Baldwin for the open U.S. Senate seat. Wisconsin juggernaut Tommy Thompson won that primary and went on to lose to Baldwin in an election where President Obama’s electoral strength pulled many down-ballot Democratic candidates to victory.
Twelve years later, Baldwin is running for a third term and Eric Hovde is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge her. Hovde is still as great a candidate, and person, as he was in 2012 and Wisconsin would do well to send him to the U.S. Senate.
In 12 years as Wisconsin’s senator, Baldwin has been a reliable vote for Democrats, but otherwise a potted plant. She does not matter. She does not have any signature issues on which she leads, nor does she have any significant legislation she championed. According to FiveThirtyEight, Baldwin has voted for Biden’s agenda 95% of the time. When she has bucked Biden, it was because she was even more Marxist. She voted against ending the COVID state of emergency and for vaccine mandates for large businesses. The only time she runs afoul of the prevailing leftist orthodoxy is when it is not totalitarian enough. Even then, she only votes against the Democrat leadership when it is safe to do so.
Hovde will matter in Washington. He will make Wisconsin matter. As a fourth-generation Wisconsinite, Hovde made his fortune as a serial entrepreneur in real estate and banking. He made a living buying distressed community banks and leading them to be successful again. He knows and loves Wisconsin. He knows how to do the hard work of taking something that is failing and making it successful.
Second, Baldwin has hit Hovde on the abortion issue. In 2012, Hovde was firmly anti-abortion and Baldwin is slamming him for that stance. In 2024, Hovde’s position on abortion has shifted. He has said that he personally opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. He has also said that he thinks that a majority of Wisconsinites support abortion in the very early days of pregnancy. Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has correctly relegated abortion policy back to the states, Hovde supports a statewide referendum on abortion to determine the most appropriate policy for Wisconsin. While I disagree with Hovde’s position, his position is far more thoughtful and relevant to the current state of the law than Baldwin is attempting to portray it.
It is worth noting that Baldwin’s radical abortion stance is out of sync with most Wisconsinites. Baldwin supports abortion up to the point of birth and is sponsoring a bill in the Senate that would have the federal government require all states to support this stance. In Baldwin’s world view, allowing the killing of a fully viable baby at term is not only permissible, it should be required. This is a bloody, radical position.
Hovde has his work cut out for him. Just like in 2012, an incumbent Democrat president is seeking a second term and down-ballot races like this will be heavily influenced by what happens in the presidential race. If Wisconsin Republicans want a chance to win, Hovde needs all of them to get involved and be generous with their time and money to support him. Let’s get to work.