MADISON, Wis. (WFRV)-- When Eric Hovde launched his campaign a few months ago, most people in Wisconsin had never heard of the hedge fund manager and businessman.
But, his creative television ads and conservative attitude have caught people's attention, and Hovde has gone from being relatively unknown to leading in most of the polls.
"I'm doing it because I'm concerned about our country, and I believe what our founding fathers spoke eloquently about, that is we do not want career politicians, to be governed by career politicians," said Hovde, while sitting in the Hovde building located in the heart of Madison.
Hovde learned quickly that leading in the polls, would mean becoming the target of the other candidates, he claims he's had 11 negative ads against him. In turn he's centering some of his own ads, around those attacks.
"I'm having to spend my time defending negative attacks on me, all they seem to do is focus on me and attack me," said Hovde.
Hovde is a from Madison, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin. Before moving back to Wisconsin last year, he spent 24 years working in the private sector in Washington DC, something his opponents have criticized him for.
"I was constantly coming back, rebuilding the family real estate business, most of my closest friends and family are here, this is home to me, always has been."
Hovde seperates himself from the other 3 candidates as a "Washington outsider." He wants to bring his "free-market, private sector approach" to congress he says, as opposed to the government approach that he says is failing.
"We've been in this boom-bust cycle in our economy really going back 12 years, I think it's a failure of economic policies, a failure of the federal reserve and their approach with money supply and a failure clearly from a legislative standpoint," said Hovde, "I've spent my life in the private sector, and particularly in the global financial markets and I've seen so many economic problems in our country in the past 12 years."
Hovde has made balancing the federal budget a main issue on the campaign trail. He proposes significant cuts to government spending, both to services and agencies.
"We have 1,300 different agencies of our federal government and i think we have to ask 3 basic questions," said Hovde, " 1. is the mission of this agency still relevant, 2. how many agencies are focused on the same task, 3. are these agencies doing their jobs in a cost effective manner?"
Hovde said the nation is on the verge of financial collapse, if congress doesn't act soon.
"It's going to require cuts across the board and I don't' believe there should be any sacred cows, it has to be done, look if we don't get serious about dealing with our deficit, then we will lose all of the programs that people care about."
The business man is worth anywhere from $58 to $240 million, and is using some of that fortune to help get himself elected. He said he's spent about $4 million so far on his campaign.