Early election results disappointed many Republicans, who saw more of a high tide than the red tsunami some predicted. However, one of the bright lights for the GOP was Republican Derrick Van Orden’s win in Wisconsin.
Van Orden will represent the 3rd Congressional District in the House of Representatives — flipping the seat red for the first time since 1996.
His opponent in the race, Bradd Pfaff (D), was leading as recently as August, but Van Orden pulled slightly ahead in September. Though Van Orden held a slight lead through October, many believed the race could go either way — particularly since Van Orden lost to Rep. Ron Kind (D) by a three-point margin in 2020.
There was no incumbent in the race — the seat was left open by retiring Kind, who is stepping down after 26 years in Congress.
Van Orden is a former Navy SEAL and received an endorsement from former President Donald Trump early on. His fundraising efforts were more successful than most — allowing him to invest heavily in advertising in the weeks leading up to the election.
Pfaff has notable credentials: he has served as a state senator in Wisconsin and in a lead role with the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Obama administration.
In addition to the challenges of campaigning against a veteran politician, Van Orden’s campaign was not without its own struggles. Some questioned why he accepted an endorsement from former President Donald Trump in a state that is much more blue than purple or red.
Others questioned why he was in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, when there was a protest and breach of the Capitol building.
Pfaff tried to paint Van Orden as an insurrectionist and election result denier.
According to Fox News, Van Orden’s campaign also experienced a setback when he said that “leftists” cannot be Christians. Pfaff seized the opportunity to call out Van Orden, saying that his comments represented an “attack on my way of life.”
But in this hotly contested race, Republicans came out on top and moved one seat closer to controlling the House.
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