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U.S. Senate candidate wants return to "fiscal sanity"

PLATTEVILLE — Grant County has been visited by Gov. Scott Walker and four members of his Cabinet in the past two months.

In late July, the county got a visit from one of the four Republicans seeking to succeed U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl (D–Wisconsin).

Eric Hovde, a third-generation real estate developer and community bank owner, spoke to a Grant County Republican Party gathering in Platteville July 22.

The GOP race to face U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D–Madison) Nov. 6 appears based on polling to be a race between Hovde and former Gov. Tommy Thompson, with the other two Republican candidates — former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann (R–Janesville) and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R–Horicon) — trailing in the polls before the Aug. 14 primary.

“It’s now pretty much a two-person race between the governor and myself,” said Hovde.

The race has become nasty among Hovde, Thompson and Neumann. Hovde termed that “disappointing — when Mark Neumann’s in the race that’s generally expected. But I’ve been rather surprised with all the stuff I’ve had to deal with with the governor.”

Of the major party candidates, Hovde is the only one who has never run for office before.

“I hope I can bring a level of economic knowledge, to sit down with senators and say this is the math … to bring some financial skills to the U.S. Senate,” said Hovde. “I’ve spent my life in the private sector, just like [U.S. Sen.] Ron Johnson did, so I’m going to look at things from the private-sector viewpoint, unlike the other candidates who are career politicians.”

Hovde’s goal is “shrinking the size of government and spending” to “create economic growth. He seeks to reduce personal and corporate income tax rates, while eliminating “corporate welfare” and “nearly all of the loopholes and deductions that exist” in the tax code, according to Hovde’s website.

“I can’t wait to get into this debate” against Baldwin, he said. “You’ve got to talk about morality and paint the free market approach in a positive way … [and] show what an outlier she is.”

Hovde would keep the charitable deduction but phase out the home mortgage deduction in a decade.

Hovde opposes the “crony capitalism” seen in the late 2000s with “too big to fail” banks and financial services companies.

“Crony capitalism doesn’t just take place on Wall Street, it has permeated all aspects of our society,” he said on his campaign website. “Third parties such as major corporations, unions, special interest groups and well-connected individuals have been able to buy political favors in abundance. While all democracies are confronted with this dynamic, the cost of running political campaigns and the lack of ethics by political leaders has corrupted our political culture.”

Hovde also favors considerably more development of domestic energy sources than is happening now, including Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil and natural gas and Rocky Mountain shale. He favors building the Keystone pipeline to Canada.

Party control of the Senate depends on Wisconsin and, according to political observers, five other states. Regardless of the Nov. 6 result, the majority party is expected to have a slim Senate majority.

The key in such an environment, said Hovde, is “you try to find those senators that are more moderate” and convince them about “the extent of the fiscal crisis” and the need for “legislation that will get us back to fiscal sanity.”