Trump backs banker Eric Hovde for election that could define Republican future in Senate

In his first visit to Wisconsin since 2022, the former president also criticized the Biden administration and described incumbent Tammy Baldwin as a "weak" candidate.

Donald Trump has endorsed Eric Hovde in what promises to be one of the closest races on the Senate electoral map. The Republican businessman will seek to dethrone Tammy Baldwin in November, who has represented Wisconsin in the Upper House since 2013.

Hovde, a millionaire banker who claims he “can’t be bought,” promises to “find common sense solutions” to the state’s problems. He announced his candidacy in February and quickly positioned himself as one of the strongest contenders in the Republican primary.

“Our country is facing enormous challenges. Our economy, our health care, crime and open borders. Everything is going in the wrong direction. I love my country, and everywhere I look today, in my country, I see it failing. (…) Sometimes I don’t recognize what’s happening,” he said in the video launch of his campaign.

Donald Trump’s endorsement

Trump returned to Wisconsin on Tuesday for the first time since 2022. He took advantage of his visit to hold a campaign event in Green Bay, where he attacked the Biden administration and publicly endorsed Hovde for the Senate.

“I knew Eric, I have studied Eric, because we have to do well and we are facing very good people (in reference to the other Republicans in the primaries). (...) Eric, I give you my complete and total endorsement. So go out and win,” said the former president from the stage. “I think it’s going to be fantastic. It has tremendous potential,” he added.

Steve Daines (R-MT), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), is in charge of leading Republicans to the majority in the Upper House. Unlike his predecessor, Rick Scott (R-FL), who decided not to get involved in the primary process, the Montana senator is playing hard to choose candidates from key states, with the goal of advancing those who have the best chance to win a general election. In turn, another key factor when deciding is the economic capacity of the candidates.

Indeed, Daines has already endorsed specific candidates in Montana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Nevada and Ohio. However, he has not yet endorsed anyone in Wisconsin, although he expressed the following about the businessman’s candidacy: “Eric Hovde’s experience as a job creator rather than a career politician makes him a strong candidate to flip Wisconsin’s Senate seat this year. I’m pleased to see Eric enter this race and look forward to welcoming him to the U.S. Senate.”

As reported by POLITICO, the leadership does not want a competitive primary for this seat, as it could weaken the nominee for what will ultimately be an uphill battle against Baldwin, who is seeking his third term in the Upper House.

November will not be the first time Hovde seeks to enter the Senate. The Republican sought his party’s nomination in 2012 but was defeated in a close primary with former Governor Tommy Thompson, who would later lose to Baldwin, who was then serving as a congressman.