Brad Pfaff on the campaign trail. (Photo courtesy of Pfaff campaign.)
One day after a Democratic challenger got into the race, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind endorsed state Sen. Brad Pfaff in the primary to determine which Democrat will run to replace Kind after his retirement.
On Wednesday, Eau Claire business owner Rebecca Cooke announced she was running for the seat — with a similar platform as Pfaff’s. Kind, who has represented the 3rd Congressional District in Western Wisconsin since 1997, followed that up by endorsing Pfaff, who had announced his candidacy a week earlier.
“Brad Pfaff’s roots in western Wisconsin run deep and no one will work harder for hard working people,” Kind said in a statement. “Brad is a champion for farmers, small businesses, workers and western Wisconsin families. I’m glad to endorse his candidacy for Congress and I look forward to supporting his campaign.
“For years, I saw Brad’s commitment to service firsthand as he worked with me on behalf of Wisconsin’s family farmers. Brad has the life experience, temperament and work ethic it takes to bring people together and solve problems.”
Pfaff was the secretary-designee of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection under Gov. Tony Evers before a fight with the Republican-held state Senate over remarks he made about the mental health of Wisconsin farmers led to his firing. Pfaff then ran for and won a seat in the Senate.
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“I thank Congressman Kind for his endorsement, his friendship and for his service to western Wisconsin and our nation,” said Pfaff. “Ron exemplifies so much that I strive for — hard work, respect for others, listening and to never forget where you come from and who you work for. Wisconsin family farmers, small businesses and workers face real challenges. I learned at a young age on the farm that when times are tough, you pull together as neighbors and you get to work. I’m going to take those same values with me to Congress as I work for the people of this district.”
Cooke owns a small business in Eau Claire and started a nonprofit that helps women start businesses. She also serves on the board of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Both Cooke and Pfaff have highlighted their experiences growing up on Western Wisconsin dairy farms as central to their motivation for running for Congress.
The winner of the Democratic primary, set to be held on Aug. 9, 2022, is likely to face Republican Derrick Van Orden in the general election. Van Orden lost to Kind by a slim margin in 2020.
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