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Businessman Eric Hovde enters Wisconsin U.S. Senate race to unseat Democrat Tammy Baldwin

Republican businessman Eric Hovde announced Tuesday he's running for Senate in Wisconsin, in a bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

"Our country is facing enormous challenges: our economy, our health care, crime and open borders — everything is going in the wrong direction," Hovde said in a 30-second launch video. 

"All Washington does is divide us and talk about who's to blame, and nothing gets done. That's not the country I know and love," Hovde said, calling for uniting and finding "common-sense solutions to restore America."

This is Hovde's second Senate bid. In 2012, he lost the GOP primary to former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who was defeated by Baldwin in the general election. 

Eric Hovde
File: Eric Hovde (R) Wisconsin is interviewed at Roll Call headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Douglas Graham/Roll Call via Getty Images

Hovde is the CEO of several companies; he heads Hovde Properties, a family-founded real estate development company. He's also the CEO of H Bancorp, a multi-bank holding company, and Sunwest Bank, a subsidiary of H Bancorp. 

The Madison-based entrepreneur also owns a $7 million property in Laguna Beach, California. 

He has the support of National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines, who has recruited several 2024 candidates with the ability to fund their own campaigns.

During an interview with CBS News' chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett last month Daines praised Hovde, saying, "He puts Wisconsin in play." He added, "It's a state that you step back and look at what happened in the '22 election, every state that Trump won we won the Senate race in '22. Every state that Trump lost, we lost the Senate race in '22…except in Wisconsin, when Ron Johnson won his reelection there." 

"He's been focused on his private-sector career and building jobs and building businesses. And I think he'll be a great candidate," he said of Hovde.

Baldwin is seeking her third term in Wisconsin. Her seat is a target for Republicans who hope to take control of the Senate in November. 

In the last two presidential elections, the winner of the battleground state was determined by less than a single percentage point. In 2016, former President Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin by a 0.8% margin. Then in 2020, Joe Biden's edge over Trump was a mere 0.6%.

Republicans are strongly positioned to win control of the Senate this year, with several seats held by Democrats up for reelection in Republican or Republican-leaning states. To gain control of the Senate, Republicans only need to flip two seats — and if Republicans win the White House, they will only need to flip one seat because the vice president would break a tie.

Currently, Hovde is the most prominent candidate in the Republican primary. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Tom Tiffany both said they would not run for Senate this year. However, businessman Scott Mayer and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke are still flirting with bids.

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