Derrick Van Orden, R-Hager City, announced Thursday he is making a second bid for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District just five months after narrowly losing the seat to longtime incumbent Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse.
The former Navy SEAL and Republican has been flagged by the GOP as a key candidate to winning back the House in 2022, and was part of one of the most closely watched races in the state last year.
“The people of Wisconsin’s 3rd District are the hardest working, patriotic, freedom loving Americans I have ever had the honor to meet,” Van Orden said in his announcement, which was joined by a video calling for change in Washington, D.C., specifically on immigration policy, COVID relief sent to prisoners and Nancy Pelosi re-elected as Speaker of the House.
“They know they are not being represented by Ron Kind and have expressed their concern to me that they see the country they love being destroyed by the socialist policies that he has voted for,” Van Orden said.
“I’m running to bring Wisconsin values back to Washington, D.C., stand up for our Constitution, and truly represent the people of the 3rd District instead of becoming rich in office by protecting personal power as my opponent has done for over two decades. Now is the time for a change in leadership in Western Wisconsin, and I will defeat Ron Kind in 2022,” he said.
While Kind hasn’t made an official announcement to run for another term in the seat he has held since 1996, he told the Tribune in a statement that he’s focused on his work in office for the time being.
“Right now, Wisconsinites need us to come together, defeat this virus, and get our economy fully functioning again — that’s exactly what I’m working to do. The last thing anyone wants or needs is 18 months of lying, partisan politics and bickering,” Kind said.
Kind has also fielded questions on if he’d make a bid for U.S. Senate in 2020, and said he was “taking a look.”
In 2020, Kind squeaked by with just 51% of the vote, earning just above 11,000 votes over Van Orden, one of his toughest opponents since taking office.
The campaign against each other last year was heated at times, and Van Orden, who has had a few stints as an actor, came under fire for an excerpt from a book he co-authored in the final weeks of the campaign.
Since the election, Van Orden has remained somewhat in the public eye, staying close with local political groups, and vocal and critical of Kind. He also faced some backlash from Democrats in recent months for being present in D.C. during the Jan. 6 insurrection, but said he turned back and did not participate.
Van Orden faces a long campaign with the race for Wisconsin’s 3rd District not on the ballot until November 2022, although campaigning is likely to look different than the last race as the pandemic begins to become more controlled.