Eric Hovde is crying foul over new attack ads released by an issue advocacy group that has ties to his Republican rival, Tommy Thompson, in the Republican primary contest for a U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin.

Americans for Job Security, which began running anti-Hovde television ads on Thursday, is the client of Persuasion Partners, a consultancy group that also happens to be running Thompson's campaign. This is more than a benign coincidence, according to the Hovde campaign.

"The connection between the Thompson campaign and AJS smacks of illegal coordination," said a spokesperson for Hovde's campaign, Sean Lansing, in a press release. "If Governor Thompson cares at all about integrity or transparency, he will either stand behind these baseless attacks or call on AJS to disclose their donors."

The President of Persuasion Partners, Darrin Schmitz, dismissed the allegations, calling them "a cheap shot from a desperate campaign."

Wisconsin's four-way GOP primary race, which also includes former congressman Mark Neumann and State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, will take place on Aug. 14. An Aug. 1 poll from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-aligned firm, showed Hovde leading the pack, holding a narrow lead over Thompson.

10 more election stories from beyond the presidential field:

Google to allow candidates to target ads by House district [The Hill]

Preparations underway to fill Davis’ seat []

22nd Congressional race: Battle or blowout? [Observer Dispatch]

Gregg campaign rips Pence for skipping votes [NWI Politics]

Va. voter rights restoration and the ballot access debate [Virginia Pilot]

Kirk Adams Gets the Nod From Sarah Palin, Which Actually Tends to Be a Good Thing [Phoenix New Times]

Super-PAC targets Bono Mack-Ruiz race [Political Empire]

Todd Akin stops in Kirksville before primary elections [KTVO 3]

Meet the 23rd Congressional District Republican candidates [Sun Sentinel]

Durant, Hoekstra, Hekman debate ahead of U.S. Senate primary [Battle Creek Enquirer]

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