Ex-SEAL Van Orden flips Wisconsin congressional seat to GOP

Nov 9, 2022, 9:39 AM | Updated: 9:46 am
Republican Congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden is seen at Morning Star Dairy in rural Onalask...

Republican Congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden is seen at Morning Star Dairy in rural Onalaska during an agriculture and rural issues roundtable hosted by the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Wisconsin on June 28, 2021, in Onalaska, Wis. (Peter Thomson/La Crosse Tribune via AP)

(Peter Thomson/La Crosse Tribune via AP)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden defeated Democratic state Sen. Brad Pfaff in Tuesday’s election to flip a Wisconsin congressional seat to Republicans, a boost to GOP designs on grabbing control of the House.

Van Orden’s victory also lands him a spot in the House less than two years after he was nearby on the day that insurrectionists violently breached the U.S. Capitol. He acknowledged attending then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, but denied taking any part in the attack that followed.

Pfaff tried to persuade voters that Van Orden’s presence in Washington should have been disqualifying. He had argued that Van Orden’s presence in Washington should be disqualifying.

Van Orden said in a statement Wednesday morning that the race was largely about inflation crimping family budgets.

“I make a promise to you: I will be the hardest-working Congressman you have ever had in this district,” Van Orden said. “I look forward to working with anyone who will put the Mission first, and the Mission is America.”

Pfaff campaign spokesperson Kevin Winslow didn’t immediately return a message Wednesday morning.

Van Orden and Pfaff were seeking a seat held by longtime Democratic Rep. Ron Kind before Kind, who narrowly defeated Van Orden in 2020, chose not to seek another term.

Van Orden vastly outraised Pfaff and had the advantage of running in a district along the state’s western border that has been trending toward conservatives. But he had to defend himself against questions about his presence on or near the U.S. Capitol grounds during the insurrection, when rioters violently breached the building in an attempt to block certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.

Van Orden said he was in Washington for political meetings when he attended then-President Donald Trump’s rally outside the White House shortly before the Capitol attack. A Facebook photo from that day appears to show Van Orden posing with a small handful of protesters on the Capitol grounds, but Van Orden has said the suggestion he was within the restricted area is “inaccurate.”

Pfaff, a state senator and former cabinet secretary for Gov. Tony Evers, maintained Van Orden’s presence near the Capitol that day shows he lacks the character and judgment to be an effective member of Congress.

He also criticized Van Orden for saying during a campaign stop in October that “leftists” can’t be Christians. Van Orden called during the stop for a return to Judeo-Christian values that he said “this country was based on” and mentioned that he’s a member of the Bible Baptist Church, which lists homosexuality alongside bestiality and incest as “sinful perversion.” The church also preaches that women should be barred from leadership positions.

The 3rd District stretches from Menomonie south along the Mississippi River to Platteville. The district is mostly rural but includes the Democratic-leaning cities of Eau Claire and La Crosse.

Democrat Barack Obama won the district twice in his presidential races but the district has grown more conservative since then, mirroring a nationwide trend in rural areas. Trump carried the district in 2016 and 2020. Kind beat Van Orden by less than 3 points in 2020.

___

Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections .

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Migrant workers with their belongings leave a barricaded village after authorities' easing of COVID...
Associated Press

Beijing, Shenzhen scrap COVID-19 tests for public transport

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities on Saturday announced a further easing of COVID-19 curbs with major cities such as Shenzhen and Beijing no longer requiring negative tests to take public transport. The slight relaxation of testing requirements comes even as daily virus infections reach near-record highs, and follows weekend protests across the country by residents […]
5 hours ago
A police officer tries to keep the roadway clear as people come to view the Mauna Loa volcano as it...
Associated Press

Molten lava on Hawaii’s Big Island could block main highway

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Many people on the Big Island of Hawaii are bracing for major upheaval if lava from Mauna Loa volcano slides across a key highway and blocks the quickest route connecting two sides of the island. The molten rock could make the road impassable and force drivers to find alternate coastal routes […]
5 hours ago
Associated Press

US condemns shooting at Pakistan’s embassy in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The U.S. on Saturday condemned an attack a day earlier on the Pakistani embassy in Afghanistan’s capital, in which a senior Pakistani diplomat escaped unhurt but one of his Pakistani guards was wounded, sending a wave of anger in this Islamic nation. Friday’s assault comes amid rising tensions between the South Asian […]
5 hours ago
FILE - Residents queue at a bank branch in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Nov. 21, 2022. Even as Ukrain...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Can Ukraine pay for war without wrecking economy?

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Even as Ukraine celebrates recent battlefield victories, its government faces a looming challenge on the financial front: how to pay the enormous cost of the war effort without triggering out-of-control price spikes for ordinary people or piling up debt that could hamper postwar reconstruction. The struggle is finding loans or donations […]
5 hours ago
Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions shout slogans during a rally against the govern...
Associated Press

Thousands protest in South Korea in support of truckers

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators representing organized labor marched in South Korea’s capital on Saturday denouncing government attempts to force thousands of striking truckers back to work after they walked out in a dispute over the price of freight. There were no immediate reports of injuries or major clashes from the protests […]
5 hours ago
FILE - A protester holding flowers is confronted by a policeman during a protest on a street in Sha...
Associated Press

At Shanghai vigil, bold shout for change preceded crackdown

SHANGHAI (AP) — The mourners in Shanghai lit candles and placed flowers. Someone scrawled “Urumqi, 11.24, Rest in Peace” in red on cardboard — referring to the deadly apartment fire in China’s western city of Urumqi that sparked anger over perceptions the country’s strict COVID-19 measures played a role in the disaster. What started as […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Ex-SEAL Van Orden flips Wisconsin congressional seat to GOP