Fresh off his victory in the 7th CD, GOP state Sen. Tom Tiffany pledged Tuesday to work with President Trump in Washington, D.C., to get the country back on the right track.
Speaking to supporters via Facebook Live, Tiffany said businesses in the northern Wisconsin congressional district were telling him earlier this year they expected 2020 to be one of their best years ever before the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country.
“I have one goal as I go out to Washington, D.C., and that is to get America back on her feet again,” Tiffany said. “This is a real blow that we’ve taken over the last couple of months.”
With almost all precincts in, Tiffany, R-Minocqua, had 57.2 percent of the vote, while Dem Tricia Zunker, president of the Wausau School Board, had 42.8 percent.
Tiffany, who will serve the rest of the term fellow Republican Sean Duffy won in 2018, is already circulating nomination papers to run again in November, when he will be up for a full two-year term.
Duffy’s September resignation was the first of several twists in the sprawling northern Wisconsin district. First, Dem Gov. Tony Evers set the election dates for Mondays in December and January. But he was forced to set new dates with a Feb. 18 primary and Tuesday’s general election because his first choice didn’t comply with federal law dictating how far ahead of an election ballots have to be sent to those outside the country.
Tiffany then beat Jason Church in a GOP primary that saw $2.8 million in outside spending. That outside involvement slowed to a trickle in the general election for the heavily GOP seat. Reports filed with the FEC show groups doing independent expenditures either backing Tiffany or opposing Zunker had spent a combined $391,543 since Feb. 19.
The only group to report spending supporting Zunker is Citizen Action of Wisconsin, which spent $44,729 late last month on salary and benefits for those making calls on behalf of the Dem.
After liberal Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky won statewide in April by 10 points for a seat on the state Supreme Court, many were watching the 7th CD for signs of how Wisconsin may go this fall in the presidential race.
The district backed Donald Trump by 20 points in 2016. Zunker touted that she finished with more than 40 percent of the vote, something no Dem candidate had done in the district since 2012, when Duffy won his first reelection.
She called the race a bellwether of what’s happening in the state in response to President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I ran on affordable health care, help for our small businesses and family farmers, and protecting our environment, and that message resonated with people throughout Northern Wisconsin,” Zunker said. “Despite a global pandemic and the lack of universal mail-in voting, we showed what can be done, and we laid the groundwork for this seat to turn blue in November.”
Trump, who tweeted his endorsement of Tiffany several times in the days leading up to the election, sent his congratulations via his favorite social media platform.
“Big News: Tom Tiffany of the Great State of Wisconsin has just become Congressman Tom Tiffany. He will do a FANTASTIC job for the people of Wisconsin, and the United States. Congratulations!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s state campaign immediately called Tiffany’s win a victory for the president that demonstrates the enthusiasm for him in Wisconsin.
State Dem Chair Ben Wikler, meanwhile, called the results a sign that Trump’s base is “cracking” after he won the district by 20 points four years ago while winning statewide by less than 0.8 percentage points. To repeat that Wisconsin win, Wikler said, “red areas have to get redder to balance out blue areas getting bluer.”