Longtime community bank investor Eric Hovde has traded Washington D.C. for Wisconsin in the hopes of taking up residence in the nation's capitol.

Hovde announced Thursday his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat that is being vacated by Democrat U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.

Hovde, a Wisconsin native, will be competing against a former governor, a state assembly speaker and a former congressman for the Republic nomination.

In a press release, Hovde noted that his private-sector experience, which includes serving as the chief executive officer of Washington-based Hovde Capital Advisors and chief investment officer of private-equity firm Hovde Acquisition LLC, sets him apart.

"Washington is full of career politicians who are beholden to the special interests that finance their campaigns," he said in the release. "We need citizen legislators who have spent time in the private sector and who have the skills to put our economy back on track."

Hovde is the chairman and largest shareholder of the $609 million-asset Sunwest Bank in Tustin, Calif. In 2010, American Banker honored Glenn Gray, Sunwest's chief executive, as a community banker of the year.

Also in July 2010, Hovde Acquisition struck a deal with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to acquire the assets and deposits of the failed $282 million-asset Bay National Bank in Baltimore using a new charter issued by the Office of Thrift Supervision. The new institution was named Bay Bank and at the time Hovde said the plan was to use the thrift as the vehicle to reach $1 billion in assets. At the end of last year, however, the thrift's assets totaled $130 million.

Hovde is not the only banking player seeking public office. John Delaney, executive chairman of CapitalSource Inc. in Bethesda, Md., is running as a Democrat in Maryland's 6th District. That seat is currently held by Republican Congressman Roscoe Bartlett.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.