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Eric Hovde: Is Another Political Outsider Headed to the US Senate from Wisconsin?

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Hovde, surging in the GOP primary polls, would be just the third political novice elected to the U.S. Senate from the Badger State

erichovde10.jpgWhen former four-term Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson entered the race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat to replace retiring Democrat Herb Kohl, it was expected he would lock down establishment support.

The lingering question was whether the anti-establishment, or Tea Party faction of the GOP, would coalesce behind an alternative to Thompson to prevent him from becoming the nominee.

Former two-term Congressman Mark Neumann was an early frontrunner for the anti-Thompson vote.

But a new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday now finds businessman Eric Hovde not only putting distance between himself and Neumann, but also eclipsing Thompson (within the poll's margin of error).

With five weeks before the primary, PPP reports Hovde leads Thompson by a 31 to 29 percent margin with Neumann a distant third at 15 percent and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald trailing with just 9 percent.

If Hovde pulls off the primary upset and then defeats Democratic nominee Tammy Baldwin in the general election, he would join freshman GOPer Ron Johnson as the first ever pair of U.S. Senators from Wisconsin without any previous ties to political office.

Ron Johnson was a plastics manufacturing company owner and founder prior to his underdog victory over three-term Democrat Russ Feingold in 2010.

Prior to Johnson's win, only three previous U.S. Senators from the Badger State came to that office without any prior service in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government at any level.

Two of these three individuals, however, had very strong political ties.

Robert La Follette, Jr. became senator in 1925 after the death of his father - the most famous politician in Wisconsin history.

While "young Bob" had never held political office, he served as his father's private secretary for Robert Sr.'s last six years in the senate.

Herb Kohl had also never held governmental office prior to being elected in 1988 to replace retiring Democrat William Proxmire.

However, Kohl had been a key figure in Wisconsin politics, serving as the Badger State Democratic Party Chairman from 1975 to 1977.

The only other senator who came to the office without any prior non-military governmental service was Francis Ryan Duffy, who was elected during the Democratic landslide of 1932 and served one term.

After attaining the rank of major in World War I, Duffy then practiced law prior to his election to the nation's upper legislative chamber more than a decade later.

As for the remaining 23 Wisconsin U.S. Senators in state history, all had some governmental experience prior to their election to the Senate:

· One served in the presidential cabinet (William Vilas).

· Seven served in the U.S. House (Charles Durkee, Isaac Stephenson, Philetus Sawyer, John Mitchell, Irvine Lenroot, Robert Kasten).

· One was a U.S. territorial delegate (Henry Dodge).

· Three were elected governor (Robert La Follette, John Blaine, Gaylord Nelson) and one was appointed territorial governor (Dodge).

· One was elected attorney general (Blaine) and one served as assistant attorney general (John Spooner).

· One served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court (Timothy Howe).

· Three were elected Wisconsin circuit court judge (Howe, James Doolittle, Joe McCarthy).

· Eight were elected to the state senate (Angus Cameron, Mitchell, Joseph Quarles, Paul Husting, Blaine, Nelson, Kasten, Russ Feingold)

· Seven were elected to the state assembly (Vilas, Spooner, Stephenson, Cameron, Sawyer, Quarles, Irvine Lenroot, William Proxmire).

· Two served in the territorial legislature (Isaak Walker, Charles Durkee).

· One served on a county board of supervisors (Blaine).

· Three were elected mayor (Sawyer, Quarles, Blaine).

· Six served as district attorney (Doolittle, Matthew Carpenter, Quarles, La Follette, Husting, Alexander Wiley).

The Republican primary will be held on August 14th.

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Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

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Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


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