Americans for Tax Reform is going after Eric Hovde as the only Republican in the Wisconsin Senate primary who has not signed the group’s pledge to not raise taxes.
Hovde’s three opponents — former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, former Rep. Mark Neumann and Wisconsin state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald — have all signed the pledge.
In a statement, ATR President Grover Norquist cited an interview that Hovde gave on CNBC in 2009, when he said he would be all right with paying higher taxes. Hovde’s opponents have used the comment against him, but he told The Daily Caller that he was speaking very specifically about himself.
“I’ve been talking about endlessly — that I think we need to lower rates and get rid of all the corporate welfare,” he explained to TheDC.
But ATR, which has not endorsed a candidate in the race, is unwilling to let him off the hook.
“When you go on a nationally syndicated business network television show and tell the world that you are open to tax hikes, you better anticipate those statements following you,” said Norquist in a statement. “By refusing to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Eric Hovde is only confirming the accusations being made against him this election.”
“Without the written commitment to oppose higher taxes, it only seems logical that Hovde’s plans are to join with Democrats to implement dangerous tax reform that includes higher taxes on everyone,” Norquist added. “Wisconsin voters should be aware both of Hovde’s rhetoric on higher taxes and his refusal to commit to Wisconsin taxpayers that he won’t raise their taxes. This lack of commitment should scare both the business community and Average Joe taxpayer.”
Last week ATR staffer Ryan Ellis and Freedomworks vice president Dean Clancy got into a spat on Twitter over Hovde’s position on taxes.
A Hovde spokesman defended the decision not to sign the ATR pledge, saying that it did not make the businessman any less committed to lowering taxes.
“Eric has signed his own tax pledge that will lower rates across the board, simplify the tax code and end corporate welfare,” said Hovde press secretary Sean Lansing in an email, linking to Hovde’s tax plan. “Eric’s plan leaves him beholden to the people of Wisconsin and nobody else.”