Dem Deb McGrath, a former CIA officer and Army captain, today formally announced her campaign for the western Wisconsin congressional seat her father once represented.

McGrath, who also served in the State Department, joins Eau Claire businesswoman Rebecca Cooke, Navy veteran Brett Knudsen and state Sen Brad Pfaff, of Onalaska, in the Dem field for the 3rd CD.

McGrath focused on her experience serving abroad. She told in an interview last month she resigned from the Army after five years when she and her husband started a family. She joined the CIA in 2002 and retired in December, becoming a contract employee with the agency’s World Factbook, a resource on the world’s countries.

“While abroad, I witnessed how countries could thrive or decline based on government responsiveness,” McGrath said. “Our country struggles to find solutions to issues that impact our national security: adequate education, affordable health care, basic infrastructure, and economic opportunity. I have experience in solving problems through rational collaboration.”

McGrath’s father, Al Baldus, served in the state Assembly from 1967-75, then began the first of his three terms in Congress. He lost his 1980 reelection bid to Republican Steve Gunderson. Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, who’s retiring after 25 years in the seat, in 1997 succeeded Gunderson, who did not seek reelection.

Republican Derrick Van Orden is running for the seat again after narrowly losing to Kind last fall.

See the release here.

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