At last, the final marquee Senate race of 2024 has its major players in place, with wealthy Republican businessman Eric Hovde jumping in last month to challenge Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in one of the closest swing states on the map.

Republicans had struggled to get a recruit in the Badger State for a while after their first choice, Rep. Mike Gallagher, passed, as did other members of the Wisconsin delegation, including Reps. Tom Tiffany and Bryan Steil.

Last year, national Republicans’ recruitment turned to Hovde, particularly due to his ability to self-fund the contest. He’s run for Senate before, in 2012 when Baldwin first won this open seat. But Hovde narrowly lost the GOP primary to popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who would lose to Baldwin that November by nearly six points.

In good news for top Senate GOP strategists, it also appears Hovde will have a clear path to the nomination. Last week, former staffing company executive Scott Mayer, who had long flirted with a bid, officially confirmed he won’t run, citing his desire to avoid a

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