PE exec loses bid for Senate seat

Eric Hovde, founder of Hovde Private Equity, was narrowly edged out by former Governor Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin’s Republican Senate primary.

Private equity executive Eric Hovde was defeated by Tommy Thompson in the Republican primary for Wisconsin’s US Senate. Hovde had been campaigning for the chance to take on Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the general election for a seat being vacated by Senator Herb Kohl.

It is unclear whether Hovde will rejoin Hovde Private Equity in a full-time capacity now that the campaign has concluded. He is still listed as a member of the firm’s investment committee.  

Managing director Joseph Thomas and general counsel Richard Perry, the committee’s other two members, were unavailable for comment when contacted through the firm’s Washington DC headquarters. 

Eric Hovdo

A spokesperson for Hovde’s campaign could not speak to the candidate’s plans now that the race is over.  

The race had been very tight in the lead up to the primary, with Hovde and Thompson in a virtual tie, according to reports. Hovde had raised twice as much for the campaign compared to Thompson, who benefitted from greater name recognition having served as a four-term governor of the state, according to a CNN report.  

Thompson eventually edged out Hovde by a margin of 34 percent to 31 percent, according to reports. Other Republican candidates included US Representative Mark Neumann and State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald. 

Hovde has been active in private equity since 1994, when he launched a merchant banking business that specialised in acquisitions of community banks and thrifts. The firm made 11 transactions, which generated an internal rate of return of 46.4 percent, according to its website. 

The firm later augmented that business with Financial Services Fund I, a 2005 private equity vintage with a target of $200 million, according to US Securities and Exchange Commission documents. Hovde is listed as an executive officer and general and/or managing partner on the fund. 

Earlier this year, Fund I portfolio company Jefferson Bancorp executed a merger with Carrolton Bancorp, which was valued at $25 million in stock and cash. 

The firm had five portfolio companies as of press time, according to its website.