Madison businessman Eric Hovde is preparing for a possible Republican run for U.S. Senate, while saying he hasn’t fully committed to run and won’t reveal his plans until 2018.

“If I were to announce, it would be sometime next year,” Hovde said in an interview.

Two other Republicans, state Sen. Leah Vukmir of Brookfield and businessman Kevin Nicholson of Delafield, are officially in the Senate race. They’re seeking the nod to oppose Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, of Madison, next November.

Hovde has said for months that he’d thinking about running too. In an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal this week, Hovde made clear he hasn’t made a final decision.

But in the meantime, Hovde said, “I’m not just sitting back.”

“I’m taking certain steps; if I make a decision, I’ll be ready,” Hovde said.

Hovde declined to discuss what steps he has taken in preparation to run.

A real estate developer and hedge fund manager, Hovde ran for U.S. Senate in 2012, when Baldwin was first elected. He placed second in that year’s GOP primary behind the eventual nominee, former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

This time around, some Republicans have questioned if Hovde is hurting his chances for 2018 by not officially entering the race, even while Nicholson and Vukmir are campaigning hard.

But Hovde has an advantage that could buy him time in the race: his personal wealth.

Hovde spent more than $5 million of his own fortune on his 2012 run and likely would have the ability to self-fund again. That means he doesn’t need to spend as much time courting donors in the early stages of a campaign.

Hovde dismissed the notion that time is running out for him to make his plans official.

“I don’t feel this need that you’ve got to hit ‘x’ date,” Hovde said. “We never take a break from (political campaigns), which I think is absurd.”

Outbrain