Republican businessman Eric Hovde announced Tuesday that he is endorsing state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) for U.S. Senate. Hovde made the announcement on the Mark Belling Show on WISN-AM.

“I know Leah and I know where she stands,” Hovde said.

Hovde said it was not a slight against Nicholson, but he just doesn’t know Nicholson and is uncomfortable about Nicholson’s past as a Democrat.

“I know Leah. She was a supporter of mine last time,” Hovde said. “I want to make sure we elect people that not only say one thing when they’re trying to get elected, but go do what they promised.”

Until Hovde announced in April he was not running, he was frequently mentioned as a possible third candidate in the Republican primary. Hovde finished a close second to former Governor Tommy Thompson in the 2012 Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Thompson went on to lose to the current incumbent, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D). Hovde, a hedge fund and real estate investor, largely self-funded his campaign in 2012 and was expected to do the same in 2018.

Vukmir is competing with Delafield businessman Kevin Nicholson in this year’s GOP Senate Primary on August 14. Nicholson maintains a lead in fundraising and in his campaign’s internal polls. However, Vukmir is widely expected to receive the endorsement of the Republican Party of Wisconsin this coming weekend.

“I am confident that by supporting Leah, she will not change her positions once elected on the important issues facing our country like cutting spending and seeking to balance our country’s budget,” Hovde said in a statement after the interview. “Because of her consistent and verifiable record on behalf of Wisconsin voters, it gives me the assurance she will stand strong in addressing our country problems, and not become like so many politicians that say one thing and do another. Leah has my support, and I believe she is the right person to challenge Tammy on her very liberal positions.”

In an email to Vukmir supporters issued after the interview, Hovde further explained his support for her candidacy.

“Leah is a strong voice for the pro-family, pro-business, and pro-veteran policies that our nation needs,” Hovde said. “Her resume includes a long list of conservative wins, and in the Senate, she will be a force to be reckoned with.”

Hovde’s announcement comes on a day that Vukmir announced an additional 250 grassroots activists and Republican officials as supporters, bringing the total to 750, including political commentator Rachel Campos-Duffy.

“There is no better nominee than Leah to lead the charge for conservative principles, and I am proud to join her ever-growing group of supporters,” Hovde said.

Vukmir quickly announced the endorsement on Twitter:

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Vukmir said she was proud of the endorsement.

“Eric’s support means a lot, and I’m thrilled to add him to my growing list of Wisconsin endorsements,” Vukmir said. “As a strong Wisconsin business leader, I appreciate his unwavering and consistent commitment to getting government out of the way so businesses and workers can succeed. He — and Wisconsinites all across the state — can count on me to cut taxes and spending, fiercely defend the lives of the unborn and repeal Obamacare once and for all.”

In the interview with Belling, Hovde did not rule out running for U.S. Senate in the future, suggesting he might run when Sen. Ron Johnson’s term is up in 2022. Johnson is not expected to seek another term.


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