First Democratic Challenger Enters Open Race for Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District

Two candidates have announced their campaigns for Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, which will be open in 2022 for the first time in 26 years. Last month, as we reported here, incumbent Representative Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) announced that he will not seek reelection next year. Rep. Kind has represented the third district since 1997.

On the Democratic side, Senator Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse) announced his candidacy on October 4. Sen. Pfaff was elected to the Wisconsin Senate in 2020 after serving in the administration of Governor Tony Evers (D). He served for about ten months as the governor’s first secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) until the Senate voted to reject his nomination in November 2019. Sen. Pfaff then briefly worked at the state Department of Administration before announcing his 2020 Senate run. Before his state government service, Sen. Pfaff worked for Rep. Kind.

Republican candidate Derrick Van Orden announced his candidacy for the seat in April. Van Orden is a retired Navy Seal and business consultant who ran for the same seat in 2020 and was defeated by Rep. Kind by 51.3 to 48.6 percent. In April 2021, Van Orden announced that he would run again next year. Van Orden has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump (R) and former Congressman Sean Duffy (R).

No other candidates have officially entered the race, and no Republicans have publicly discussed challenging Van Orden at this time. Democrats who are reportedly considering a run include Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick), Representatives Jody Emerson (D-Eau Claire) and Katrina Shankland (R-Stevens Point), Eau Claire Alderman Andrew Werthmann, and Rebecca Cooke, a businesswoman from Eau Claire.

Currently, five of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts are represented by Republicans, and three by Democrats.