Reality Check: Ad attacks Thompson, Hovde in U.S. Senate race

National chapter of Club for Growth supports Mark Neumann in race
Reality Check: Ad attacks Thompson, Hovde in U.S. Senate race

Ahead of the Aug. 14 primary election, the ads continue in the race for U.S. Senate.

A third-party group that supports conservative candidates is weighing in on behalf of just one candidate in the race, Mark Neumann.

The national chapter of Club for Growth, not to be confused with the Wisconsin arm of the group, is running the ad and has endorsed Neumann for Senate.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the group has actually spent $8 million against conservative candidates and only $2 million for them. Republican U.S. Senate candidates Eric Hovde and Tommy Thompson are the group’s fifth- and sixth-biggest targets.

Some argue the group supports Neumann because at least two of his former staffers work at the group. The group claims it has a single mission: “To beat big government politicians.”

“When Tommy Thompson was governor, he proposed raising the gas tax, and he called for higher taxes on nursing home beds,” the announcer says in the ad. “In all, Thompson pushed for nine different tax hikes.”

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. It’s true Thompson proposed raising the gas tax in the 1995 transportation budget. He argued a 3-cent-a-gallon increase was needed to pay for road improvements, but the provision didn’t make it through the state Legislature. It’s also true he raised taxes on nursing home beds by $32 in the 1991 budget. Thompson said the increase was necessary to leverage additional federal dollars to help nursing homes.

In total, Thompson did push for at least nine different tax increases, including on cigarettes and sales made over the Internet. But is that the whole picture of his tax record? Not exactly. He also cut income and property taxes, and the conservative Tax Foundation said the state’s overall “tax burden” went from being the second highest in the nation to the seventh highest under his watch.


“And Eric Hovde? In a national TV interview, Hovde said he had no problem with raising taxes,” the announcer says in the ad. “And Hovde supported tax-raising Gov. Jim Doyle.”

WISC-TV found this also needs clarification. First, the TV interview with Hovde was on CNBC, and he was actually arguing against some tax changes.

“Look, I have no problem with me getting charged higher taxes, as I’ve been blessed in my life, and I’ve been very fortunate,” Hovde told the anchors. “But some of the things that they’ve done are just insane. Taking away deductions on home mortgage payments? I don’t need it, but a lot of other people do. We’re in a housing recession.”

It’s true that Hovde gave money once to Doyle in 2005. He has given money to Republicans since 2010.

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