GOP Senate Candidate Ads Go Negative, Hovde Says He'll Focus on Issues
Instead of targeting Democrat Tammy Baldwin or attacking Obamacare, GOP candidates for senate here in Wisconsin are going after each other, but Eric Hovde said he's going to try and stay positive.
With only a month to go before the Aug. 14 partisan primary for US Senate, GOP candidates this week unleashed a series of negative ads against each other.
Up until a few days ago, the candidates predominantly took shots at Democrat Tammy Baldwin and Obamacare. But, since the results of polls from Public Policy Polling and Marquette University were released and a new ad from Club for Growth, which supports former US Rep. Mark Neumann, hit the airwaves, Republicans have come out swinging.
The poll from PPP shows businessman Eric Hovde leading the GOP field with former Gov. Tommy Thompson a close second. Results from the Marquette poll put Thompson on top with Hovde in second. Former US Rep. Mark Neumann and state Rep. Scott Fitzgerald trail significantly in both polls.
Hovde, the businessman and political newcomer from Sun Prairie, released a statement Friday saying he didn't want to go negative, but he couldn't let ads from Neumann go unanswered.
"This is an important election, and we will not hesitate to shed light on Congressman Neumann’s negative and less than conservative record," wrote campaign spokesperson Sean Lansing.
Area Patch residents are not happy with the new tone.
"It's easy to be negative. Tell us why we should vote for you, not why we should not vote for your opponent," said Tim Shea of Caledonia.
And at a campaign stop in Racine Saturday, Hovde agreed. He told a crowd of about 40 people at Bendtsen's Bakery, 3200 Washington Ave., that he knows people are sick of negative ads, but that's what happens when people feel threatened.
"When people are threatened, they attack," he said. "Mark Neumann is trying to distort my record, you know, so how do you respond to that? I'm going to continue to try and stay positive. My whole goal is to focus on the issues."
Professor Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette poll, said when the results were released that he was surprised at the lack of advertising - except for Hovde - even after the June recall elections were over.
"I expect it's going to be rock-'em-sock-'em from now until August 14," he noted.
Still, Hovde did acknowledge that he may have to turn to the dark side to counter the attacks against him.
"Will I have to at some point put something out to counter or rebutt? Probably, yeah," he stated. "We will have to put something out to clarify our positions."
After the Club for Growth ad starting airing, former Gov. Tommy Thompson's campaign issued a response taking Neumann to task:
Mark Neumann should be ashamed of himself. He ran an ugly and deceitful campaign against Scott Walker and now his attack dogs are grossly distorting Tommy Thompson's record: (He) cut taxes 91 times during his tenure including three income tax cuts, the largest property tax cut in the history of the state and he eliminated the inheritance tax. Wisconsin's overall tax burden went down and the state experienced record job growth due to Tommy Thompson's aggressive tax cuts.
Damian Valentine, also of Caledonia, said Neumann going negative should not surprise anyone.
"Neumann is as Neumann does," he stated. "He went negative with Walker and only knows one way."
David Alton of Racine said the candidates aren't really in it for the residents of the state so they go negative as part of a strategy to get into office by any means necessary.
"(They're negative) because they have no idea on how to fix the economy. All they want to do is make the other person look bad so they get elected and suck up all the money and benefits. It's all about them not us," he stated. "Why don't they take pay cuts and pay for their insurance? Take away their paid health when they retire."
Hovde answered a similar question at Bendtsen's, saying that, if elected, he would only serve two terms and expects that any laws for which he votes apply equally to Congress.
"Did you know Congress passes laws for everyone else but not for them?" he asked. "Its true. Obamacare is a good example, but I think that any law passed that effects the people of this country should also effect the people in Congress. But we also need term limits so we don't have career politicians. We need new blood with fresh ideas coming in every few years."