Republican Party Divided Over Tea Party Primary for U.S. Senate

May 10, 2012

GOP Race to Right-Wing Extremism Turns Negative as Candidates Fight to be a Voice for Corporate Special Interests and the Wealthy

As Wisconsin Republicans open their convention in Green Bay this weekend, the GOP is on the brink of an “intraparty fight” in the U.S. Senate primary that has divided the party and produced negative attacks and accusations of “underhanded tactics” to secure the endorsement of Tea Party activists.

“The division and negative attacks that now define the Republican primary for U.S. Senate come as a result of the fact that all the candidates have doubled down on political partisanship and pledged their allegiance to Tea Party extremism,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate. “This Republican primary has put extremism ahead of Wisconsin’s middle class and is nothing more than a fight to be the voice in Washington, D.C. for millionaires and corporate special interests.”

This week, Eric Hovde, a hedge fund banker who just recently moved to Wisconsin after spending the last 25 years in Washington, D.C, personally attacked former Bush administration Cabinet Secretary Tommy Thompson and accused him of “political double speak from a Washington insider.” [Background link #1 below] In response to the Hovde attack, Thompson’s campaign said, “It’s disappointing to see Washington, D.C. hedge fund manager Eric Hovde launch an extremely dishonest and desperate attack.”

The four Republican primary candidates will be competing for the party’s endorsement with a vote from party activists set to take place on Saturday. The media reported this week [2] that an “intraparty fight” has broken out over the Republican Party endorsement.

Hovde’s campaign said this week, “This is convention 2010 all over again,” [3] and his spokesman accused his opponents of using ‘‘underhanded tactics.” [4] In 2010, Ron Johnson won the party’s endorsement a week after entering the race and his primary opponent, Terrance Wall, accused Johnson of buying the endorsement [5] and said “I’ve got over a hundred stories like that of corruption (and) bribery.” Hovde has flooded the airwaves and spent nearly $2 million on TV ads over the past two months.

“All the Republican candidates have recycled the same failed economic policies of the past,” said Tate. “All of them support the Ryan budget and all of them would place a huge burden on seniors and middle class families in order to preserve corporate handouts and tax cuts for the wealthy. In fact, just this week all the GOP candidates refused to support efforts to make wealthy stock holders and big oil companies pay their fair share in order to prevent Wisconsin students from being burdened with more student loan debt.”

GOP Senate Primary Takes Negative Turn: Hovde and Thompson Trade Attacks: In an e-mail to supporters, Hovde personally attacked former Bush administration Cabinet Secretary Tommy Thompson and accused him of “political double speak from a Washington insider.”
Media Reports That an “Intraparty Fight” Has Broken Out Over the Republican Party Endorsement. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that, behind the scenes, “there’s an intraparty fight over the issue of activist-minded citizens signing up with the Republican Party and requesting to be a convention delegate to help their preferred U.S. Senate candidate secure the party’s endorsement.”

On Sunday, the Hovde Campaign Stated that this Year’s Race will Mirror the In-Fighting of the 2010 Republican Race, Including the Use of “Underhanded Tactics”. In the same Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story, Hovde campaign spokesman Sean Lansing said, “This is convention 2010 all over again in the sense that Neumann is apparently using underhanded tactics to try and get his way because he knows he doesn’t have a whole lot of support in Wisconsin.”

In 2010, losing Republican U.S. Senate candidate Terrance Wall Accused Ron Johnson of Buying Endorsement Votes. A couple of years back during the 2010 U.S. Senate campaign, Wall said “corruption and bribery” helped his Republican primary opponent get their party’s endorsement. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story states, “Wall, a Middleton developer, said that he believes delegates to the state GOP convention in Milwaukee last month received offers of having their hotel rooms paid if they supported Oshkosh businessman and Republican primary front-runner Ron Johnson.”