Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate picks out-of-state team to win NCAA tournament

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Posted at 4:14 PM, Mar 21, 2024

MADISON (AP) — Republican businessman Eric Hovde wants to be a U.S. senator representing Wisconsin.

But he's picking a team from Indiana to win the NCAA basketball tournament.

"At the end of the day Purdue is too tough and will cut down the nets in Phoenix," Hovde said Thursday in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The University of Wisconsin alum, who is running to take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in one of the country's most watched Senate contests, is wearing a UW pullover in the picture.

Typically, politicians love to show off their NCAA tournament brackets with a home-state team going all the way, no matter the odds. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers posted his bracket on Tuesday that has Wisconsin beating Marquette on its way to winning it all.

"You better believe I've got our @BadgerMBB going all the way," Evers posted.

Hovde does give a nod to the two Wisconsin teams in the tournament: "The Badgers and Marquette make good runs too." He has Wisconsin losing to Houston in the Sweet 16, while Marquette, located in Milwaukee, makes it to the Final Four before losing to Purdue.

Democrats have tried to paint Hovde as out of touch with Wisconsin. Hovde was born and raised in Wisconsin, but also owns a $7 million mansion in California and is CEO of California-based H Bancorp and its primary subsidiary, Sunwest Bank.

Hovde previously tried to prove his Wisconsin bona fides by submerging shirtless in a Madison lake, challenging Baldwin to do the same. She declined.

Baldwin did not share her bracket but is still sticking with the Badgers and Marquette.

"Tammy Baldwin never doubts the people of Wisconsin," her campaign spokesperson Andrew Mamo said. "She'll be cheering on Wisconsin and Marquette to meet in the Elite 8 and the winner of that game to cut down the nets in Arizona."

Hovde spokesperson Ben Voelkel stood by the pick of Purdue, a team Wisconsin beat in the Big 10 Tournament.

"Eric Hovde isn't a career politician that panders," Voelkel said. "He's a basketball fan. Purdue is one of the best teams in the country and if they get the kind of calls they did in the Big Ten Tournament the Boilermakers have a great chance to win."