MUST READ: LA Times Calls Hovde “Wisconsin’s California Candidate”

May 16, 2024

MUST READ: LA Times Calls Hovde “Wisconsin’s California Candidate”

MADISON, Wis. — This morning,  the Los Angeles Times, California bank owner and three time winner of Orange County’s most influential Eric Hovde’s hometown newspaper, detailed how their California neighbor Eric Hovde is trying to buy a Senate seat in Wisconsin.

Read more below: 

Los Angeles Times: Wisconsin’s California Candidate
By: Mark Z. Barabak

  • Eric Hovde has, from the looks of it, a pretty swell life.

  • The banking executive is a millionaire many times over. He owns an ocean-view mansion in Laguna Beach and was named by the Orange County Business Journal for three years running as one of the county’s most influential individuals.

  • Yet for more than a decade, Hovde, 60, has had a hankering to hold political office. Normally, this is where we’d insert the long litany of rich folk — Michael Huffington, Al Checchi, Meg Whitman among them — who’ve tried and face-planted in their bid to get elected statewide in California.

  • Hovde’s opponent is Democrat Tammy Baldwin, who’s running for a third term and starts as a favorite — though not an overwhelming one — to win reelection. In recent years, Wisconsin has replaced Florida as perhaps the most competitive swing state in America.

  • It’s vital for Democrats to hold onto Baldwin’s seat in November if they stand any chance of keeping their bare Senate majority. So naturally they’ve sought to turn Hovde’s California ties into a major campaign issue.

  • They’ve posted billboards and created a website linking Hovde, or, rather, “California bank owner Eric Hovde (R-Laguna Beach),” to a luxe life of champagne and pleasure. A TV spot — crashing surf, sparkling wine and, of course, palm trees — ends with a rhetorical question: “Eric Hovde on Wisconsin’s side? Don’t bank on it.”

  • Hovde is also chairman and CEO of Irvine-based H Bancorp and its chief subsidiary, Sunwest Bank.

  • Lately, however, the California question has been overshadowed by remarks Hovde made about older voters, who happen to make up a sizable chunk of Wisconsin’s electorate. (A quarter of residents are 60 or older; nearly 1 in 5 are 65 and up.)

  • Hinting at irregularities in the 2020 election — which seems to be the price of admission to the GOP these days — Hovde repeated bogus claims of widespread voting fraud at Wisconsin nursing homes. In doing so, he questioned the capacity of elderly residents to coherently cast their ballot.

  • “If you’re in a nursing home, you only have a five-, six-month life expectancy,” Hovde said in a talk-radio interview. “Almost nobody in a nursing home is at a point to vote.”

  • Which is one way to address the Democratic advantage among seniors — you could simply disenfranchise them — though, for the record, Hovde later clarified his statement by saying, “I think elderly absolutely should vote.”

  • Unfortunately for Hovde, even as he worked to clean up that political mess, Sunwest Bank was named as co-defendant in a wrongful-death lawsuit targeting a Southern California senior living facility that the bank partly owns. 

  • All in all, that’s made for pretty rough going for Hovde, though there is some consolation should his Senate bid fall short. He still has that mansion awaiting him back in Laguna Beach.

  • Happy to troll Hovde, Wisconsin’s Democratic Party rounded up cast members of the “Real Housewives of Orange County,” who sent their best wishes in a video and said they dearly miss their sometime-neighbor.

  • “Cannot wait, just like your friends, for you to come back,” said cast member Gina Kirschenheiter.

  • “Be back safe, enjoy your journey,” said Vicki Gunvalson, the self-proclaimed “OG of the OC.” Blowing a kiss, she added, “Don’t forget to whoop it while you’re in Wisconsin. Have some cheese curds.”