Bruce Murphy
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Eric Hovde Has Another Bad Week

Even the good news was an issue for Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

By - Apr 22nd, 2024 12:04 pm
Eric Hovde.

Eric Hovde.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde continues to be in the news. But not in a good way.

Two weeks ago the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin created a controversy with comments suggesting nearly everyone in nursing homes is not “at a point” to vote. “Well, if you’re in a nursing home, you only have five, six months life expectancy,” he said. “Almost nobody in a nursing home is at a point to vote.”

This left Ben Voelkel, his campaign spokesperson, to explain that the candidate was not arguing that nursing home residents should not vote. “In no manner did Eric Hovde suggest that elderly people should not vote,” Voelkel said. “He was referring to specific cases in Racine where family members raised concerns about their loved ones voting.”

Hovde claimed that there were nursing homes where more than 100% of the residents voted. Which is not true. A Wisconsin State Journal investigation found that just one Dane County nursing home — with 12 residents — had 100 percent voter turnout, and that elsewhere turnout ranged from 42% to 91%.

Former Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar jumped on the controversy last week Tuesday, with a blog post entitled “GOP Candidate Wants to Take the Vote Away from Nursing Home Residents.”

“What’s troubling here is his desire to take away the rights of people who have spent a lifetime contributing to this country based on a physical attribute: age,” he wrote. “Even if there was some fraud, the goal should be to uncover it, not deny everyone in nursing homes the vote.”

“Is this the guy who should be a senator?”

Meanwhile, rather than letting the matter drop, Hovde went on conservative talk radio to explain that he’d been misunderstood. “They tried to say I didn’t want elderly people to vote,” Hovde said on WISN-AM. “I don’t even know how they came up with that.”

But as AP reporter Scott Bauer wrote on Saturday, Hovde also said “a large percentage” of nursing home residents “are not in the mental capacity to (vote).” Hovde made the comment on Wednesday to Meg Ellefson, the Fox radio news host in Wausau.

Also on Saturday, the New York Times offered a new and damning follow-up on the controversy, reporting that the bank Hovde leads, Utah-based Sunwest, “last month was named as a co-defendant in a California lawsuit that accuses a senior living facility partly owned by the bank of elder abuse, negligence and wrongful death.”

Hovde’s campaign called the suit meritless and said it was farcical to hold the chairman and chief executive of a bank responsible for the actions of a business that it seized in a foreclosure in 2021. But as the Times noted, “Sunwest has claimed millions of dollars in revenue from its assisted living properties, including Claremont Hacienda,” the facility named in the lawsuit.

A followup story by the Wisconsin Examiner reviewed California state records and found that Claremont Hacienda “has been cited a dozen times in the last two years by the California Department of Social Services, which licenses and monitors assisted living homes. The home has been fined $4,500.”

The department made 14 visits to the facility, Erik Gunn reported, and issued citations “for not complying with medication storage rules; taking a resident’s personal property (a cell phone); lacking required certificates in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation for two employees and lacking current certificates for two others; failing to display a required patients’ rights poster where it was publicly visible; lacking an up-to-date license for the home’s administrator, whose listed qualification also did not meet state minimum requirements according to the department; employing two people without any record that they had cleared criminal background checks; incomplete training records for five employees; and hot water in two rooms that was below the minimum required temperature.”

Those citations, along with Hovde’s comments about nursing home residents, may not help him with older voters.

But it’s not the only group of voters who might be bothered by his comments. In March, a story by the Daily Beast dug up a video of Hovde in 2012 proposing that insurance companies charge higher premiums for people living with obesity.  His comments came in the context of his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

“You become obese, your health care is going to cost more,” he told the public affairs channel WisconsinEye.

“If they all of a sudden started to realize that they’re going to pay more for their health care by consuming, you know, by consuming massive amounts of soda every day or fatty foods and not exercising, maybe they would change their behavioral patterns.”

“It’s a personal choice,” he said of obesity, “but there should be consequences to those personal choices.”

There was some good news for Hovde last week. The latest Marquette poll found that Hovde’s opponent, incumbent Democratic  U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was leading the race by 52% to 47% among registered voters. But among likely voters, the race was tied.

Beyond the headline, however, was data suggesting that as voters get to know Hovde better, his unfavorable rating is rising. A year ago just 8% of those polled had an unfavorable opinion. In the most recent poll 24% had an unfavorable opinion of Hovde, compared to 19% who had a favorable rating. Baldwin, meanwhile, was at 47% favorable and 42% unfavorable.

Hovde needs to turn that around. His recent comments aren’t helping his cause.

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9 thoughts on “Back in the News: Eric Hovde Has Another Bad Week”

  1. mkwagner says:

    Does Hovde realize how many medications are on the market that cause significant weight gain. Or maybe he is unaware of the problem of food insecurity and food deserts. Obesity in this country has everything to do with individuals access to wholesome food like fresh vegetables and fruit (instead of having to rely on overprocessed, sugar and salt laden imitation food;) and healthcare.
    Hovde is beginning to show his stripes; he is an entitled white male, who believes he knows what’s best for everyone else. He is not about to listen to the voters he denigrates. He simply dismisses out of hand any voter who could potentially vote for Sen, Baldwin. Hovde is NOT for Wisconsin. Wisconsin voters would be wise to NOT vote for Him.

  2. Mingus says:

    The mainstream media when looking at the Senate Race between Tammy Baldwin and Hove rarely get into a deep dive on his previous positions, business dealings and residency in California. Just reporting on the results of the Marquette Poll really tells the voter nothing. Hopefully there will be more now that these two issues have come out.

  3. CQSullivan says:

    Hovde said, “a large percentage” of nursing home residents “are not in the mental capacity to (vote).” This shouldn’t bother Hovde, who apparently is concerned that they won’t vote for a Presidential candidate who is “not in the mental capacity” to be President.

  4. Trmott says:

    Wondering in what sense Eric Hovde deserves to be labeled as “entitled” per mkwagner (above). The link points out some characteristics and implications of that term, very thoughtfully, IMO. There’s not a thing either he or Tammy Baldwin can do about being “white” and Hovde is destined to be “male”, but “entitled”?,%22the%20world%20owes%20me.%22

  5. Eric Hovde is not at a point to serve in any public office.

  6. TosaGramps1315 says:

    I believe that Hovde as a US Senator would just be a cookie cutter version of Ron Johnson. Wisconsin does not want or need another Senator that basically does nothing but carry water for Donald Frump, vote the way their party leader tells them to vote, and occasionally spew nonsensical, right-wing rantings that require walk-backs, or in many cases lead to doubling down positions that just make their self-dug holes deeper and more difficult to climb out of.

  7. TosaGramps1315 says:

    I have posted this comment before about other crazy politicians, and I am certain Eric Hovde wlll not be the last one to whom I apply it.

    When someone shows you who they are, believe them.

  8. lobk says:

    Betting Hovde can’t wait to get home to his cushy Laguna Beach mansion after the campaign, just like East Coaster, Tim Michels, hasn’t been seen here since his run for WI governor.

  9. DAGDAG says:

    Anyone that says he is willing to donate his salary to anything, charity or not, simply means he has too much money and will use his donation as a tax write-off. Yet people who would vote for him fall for this ploy, thinking how noble it is…why in fact his is only serving his own self interests. (Think of that certain “former guy” who paid no taxes).

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