Democrats battle Trump-backed millionaire for Senate seat in swing-state Wisconsin. (Part-2)

Hovde targets Wisconsin's small but vital independent voters, who decide close races. Trump lost conservative Milwaukee suburbs, Fox Valley, and Green Bay voters in 2020. Democrats have won 14 of 17 statewide elections by expanding into Republican strongholds and increasing turnout in Madison and Milwaukee.  

Hovde must enhance Trump's suburban margins and reduce Democrats' urban advantage. He advertises on TV in Madison and Milwaukee, the state's main cities. “I think it’s a mistake when Republican candidates don’t compete in Milwaukee and Madison,” Hovde added. “So I’m focusing on both markets and competing hard.”

Baldwin won by 11 points in 2018, a huge margin in a state where four of the past six presidential races have been decided by less than a point. Democratic Tony Evers beat then-Gov. Scott Walker by little over 1 point in 2018. Since then, Democrats have followed Baldwin's policy of competing everywhere, including rural areas. Baldwin said during a tour of New Glarus Brewing Company that she must travel the state. Biden won Green County, where New Glarus lies, by 662 votes in 2020.  

Her 19-county, 1,400-mile “Dairyland” launch trip included a boat ride in Wisconsin Dells and meetings with tribal elders in Ashland. Baldwin claims Hovde, CEO of California-based H Bancorp and Sunwest Bank, is seeking to buy the Senate seat. Heavily funded Hovde has cleared the GOP primary field. Scott Mayer, another wealthy businessman, declined to run in March. Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a Trump supporter known as “America’s Sheriff” on conservative speaking tours, had considered running but hasn’t.  

Clarke announced a “big announcement,” but it was a book giveaway last week. Hovde was raised in Wisconsin yet has a $7 million Laguna Beach mansion. In February, he posted a video of himself shirtless in a freezing Madison lake, challenging Baldwin to show her Wisconsin credentials and do the same. She declined.  

Hovde also reported receiving over 2,000 Wisconsin donations in his first month of campaigning. Baldwin again expects abortion boosts Democratic turnout, as it did in last year's Wisconsin Supreme Court contest, won by the liberal candidate, and the 2022 midterm.  

In January, Vice President Kamala Harris and Biden visited conservative Milwaukee suburb Waukesha to discuss abortion rights (one of several Wisconsin stops). His 10th visit to Wisconsin was scheduled for Monday in Madison. Baldwin termed abortion “a very potent issue that people recognize is on the November ballot.”  

Hovde applauded the Supreme Court's 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade, but he told AP that states should decide on abortion bans, breaking with Trump again. Trump has indicated support for a federal ban.  Longtime Republican strategist Bill McCoshen said Hovde must win on issues to succeed.

Her constituent services makes her so strong,” McCoshen remarked. She and her colleagues deliver. Her endorsements will be unusual for a Republican.” At New Glarus Brewing, co-owner Deb Carey commended Baldwin for lobbying to cut the beer tax, support affordable health care, and maintain Social Security.  

“Tammy is a practical Wisconsinite who has worked hard for Wisconsin for many years,” Carey added. “She absolutely deserves reelection.” McCoshen advised Hovde to emulate Baldwin's 2012 Senate triumph over Tommy Thompson, the popular former four-term governor. "Hovde's got to let her voters vote against her this time," McCoshen added.  

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