In Wisconsin senate race, Republican Hovde doesn’t inspire confidence

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Next month’s Wisconsin GOP senate primary is right around the corner, and sources tell me that some of Gov. Scott Walker’s backers have begun quietly pushing former hedge fund manager Eric Hovde over rivals like former Gov. and HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and former Rep. Mark Neumann.

This isn’t terribly surprising. Thompson is now perceived as being too liberal for the party — and there might still be some bad blood between the Walker and Neumann camps (from the 2010 GOP primary).

Regardless, senate seats are scarce, and some of Hovde’s past statements and actions don’t inspire a lot of confidence — at least, not in the eyes of fiscal conservatives hoping to send reinforcements to Jim DeMint and the new generation of senate conservatives he recruited and backed in 2010.

For example, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Daniel Bice reported that

During a March 2009 appearance on CNBC-TV, Hovde – CEO of Washington-based Hovde Capital Advisors and chief investment officer of private-equity firm Hovde Acquisition LLC – offered a widespread critique of President Barack Obama and congressional spending.

“And then you look over on the tax side,” the millionaire money man said (beginning at the 7:25 mark). “Look, I have no problem with me getting charged higher taxes. I’ve been blessed in my life. And I’ve been very fortunate.”

(Hovde, it seems, was for the Buffett rule before it existed.)

There are other reasons for free marketers to be skeptical. During that same interview, Hovde supported some stimulus provisions, saying that instead of focusing on pet projects, Democrats “should have focused the stimulus on those things that were going to have long-lasting beneficial impacts.”

But that’s not all. As WAOW reported in March,

Eric Hovde, a hedge fund manager, grew up in Madison but has lived in Washington, D.C. for the past 24 years. He recently moved back to Wisconsin.

Hovde is facing some questions about his past, including a $500 donation to Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle back in 2005.

Hovde told Newsline 9 he doesn’t recall making the donation, but that it was something he shouldn’t have done.

“I’ll admit, it was a total mistake,” said Hovde. “I’d like my money back ‘cause he was a lousy governor.”

Let’s see … A hedge-fund manager who lived in DC for the last 24 years, thinks he should pay more taxes, thinks the stimulus wasn’t all bad, who donated to Wisconsin’s “lousy” Democratic governor.

Seems like the perfect candidate for Republicans to back.

Matt K. Lewis