Former U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde launches TV ad in push to reopen Wisconsin

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Eric Hovde, a Madison businessman who ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2012, is making a public push to reopen Wisconsin.

And he’s putting his own cash behind the effort.

Hovde launched a 60-second state-wide television spot Wednesday in which he poses direct questions to Gov. Tony Evers about several aspects of the safer-at-home order put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.

And Hovde established a website OpenWisconsinToday.org. The venture is the first project of Our Future Matters, a new 501(c)(4) organization.

The move by Hovde comes after several separate rallies organized by activists in Brookfield and Madison to reopen the state.

In a news release, Hovde said: “It’s time to open Wisconsin given the data and the consequences of the shutdown. Decisions are being made to lock down our state that are having both severe negative economic and health consequences for our citizens.

“Many other states with higher virus caseloads have already started reopening. Unfortunately, our governor has not addressed the science or facts on the ground to justify his decisions, and as a result, he has made the lock down and pandemic appear political. This should not be about politics or partisanship. It should only be about the overall health and well being of our citizens,” he said.

Evers imposed a safer-at-home order, extended to May 26, to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Hovde’s ad questions why Evers continues to impose restrictions despite having about 7,300 cases of the virus. The ad uses an out-of-date figure, however, from May 1. 

As of Tuesday, the state has 8,566 cases of the virus. The ad questions why the restrictions are still in place despite the state having many fewer cases of the virus than projections from the Department of Health Services estimated. 

In the ad, Hovde questions why Evers has not changed his approach now that the number of infections are vastly lower than some models his health agency estimated could occur by May 1.

The ad’s numbers are based on a DHS model that for the purpose of illustrating the outbreak’s effect on hospital capacity, estimates the number of cases after two months of Evers’ stay at home order, by May 1, to be 373,800 without intensive testing and isolation.

Under testing and isolation, all symptomatic cases are tested and all cases testing positive are isolated, according to the DHS model cited in the ad. 

DHS officials have said the number of actual infections is likely much higher than the number of reported infections. 

Hovde ran a strong but ultimately unsuccessful campaign for U.S. Senate in 2012, losing the Republican nomination to former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Hovde flirted with another U.S. Senate run in 2018, but ultimately decided to stay out of the GOP primary.

This story has been corrected to show the ad relies on a DHS model projecting the number of inflections as of May 1 under two months of the governor’s stay at home order. 

Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributed to this report. 

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