If it seemed that former U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde had a nice tan in his recent TV ad imploring the governor to open up Wisconsin, there’s a good reason for that.
That’s because he shot the commercial in a studio in California. He then had a Hawaii firm book the time on TV stations across Wisconsin.
“Nothing quite says out-of-touch like has-been Hovde telling you from a studio in California what’s wrong with Wisconsin,” said Courtney Beyer, spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party. Gov. Tony Evers, the target of Hovde’s criticism, is the state’s top Democrat.
What does Hovde, who ran for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin 2012, have to say about that?
“I don’t give a crap where my media buyer is — where I cut it,” Hovde said on Saturday. “Are you kidding me?”
He added: “That tells you how lost they are.”
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Hovde launched a 60-second statewide TV spot last week in which he poses direct questions to Evers about several aspects of the safer-at-home order put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Madison businessman also established a website called OpenWisconsinToday.org. The venture is the first project of Our Future Matters, a new 501(c)(4) organization, meaning it operates as a tax-exempt social welfare entity.
The move by Hovde comes after several separate rallies organized by activists in Brookfield and Madison to reopen the state.
As it turns out, Hovde cut the commercial using a green screen at the Whitford Foundryvideo production firm in Hermosa Beach, California. Hovde is chairman and CEO of Sunwest Bank, which is based in Orange County, California.
The air time for the spot was then bought by Max Media Inc. in Haiku, Hawaii, according to Federal Communications Commission records.
Hovde said in an interview that he was trying to make the point that the governor enacted a policy that is not supported by the facts. Evers imposed a safer-at-home order in March, then extended it to May 26, to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Hovde said it was clear that COVID-19 is not as deadly as it was predicted to be. It also is not killing as many young people as was forecast.
Yet, he said, Evers has not adjusted his “lockdown” order — he said he wouldn’t use the euphemism “safer-at-home” — as other Democratic governors have done. He pointed specifically to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to lift some restrictions imposed to fight the spread of coronavirus.
“Every question I asked was backed with massive data,” Hovde said regarding his TV ad. He also noted that he did not attack the Wisconsin governor in the commercial, which is no longer running in the Milwaukee market.
But rather than respond to the crux of his argument, Hovde said, Evers and his Democratic allies were raising irrelevant questions about where he shot the ad and who distributed it.
“How (expletive) sad,” he exclaimed.
Actually, there was some confusion among Milwaukee TV stations over the nature of the commercial.
Sources said the ad buy came from Max Media, a firm most Milwaukee stations are not familiar with, for a TV spot for Sunwest Bank. That led some to think it was a regular ad for a business, not an issue ad, which costs a higher rate.
Because of the confusion, the TV spot ended up running on only three of Milwaukee’s four major network stations over its six-day run.
Asked if he was aware of the confusion, Hovde said it was an irrelevant issue.
“I have no idea,” he said. “Who gives a (expletive)?”
But why start the nonprofit and run the statewide ad campaign? Is Hovde thinking of making another run for public office in Wisconsin?
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.
On Saturday, he said he ran for the Senate and considered another bid because he was concerned that federal officials were bankrupting the country. He said that has now pretty much happened in response to the pandemic.
But Hovde said no one seriously starts thinking about running for any office until 18 months before the election. So he said it is not on his radar to run for any public office, including governor.
“That is not a life goal of mine,” the multimillionaire banker said.
Contact Daniel Bice at (414) 224-2135 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DanielBice or on Facebook at fb.me/daniel.bice.
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