Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District
Graphic courtesy of nationalatlas.gov

Editor’s Note: Large, unsourced quotes are taken from CBS WSAW-TVs “5 Candidates, 12 Questions” project. 

With the passing of the first in the nation primary for presidential candidates in Iowa earlier this month, the national election season is turning into high gear. With it being a national election year, it can be easy to miss races closer to home that feature local offices that impact us more intimately. 

Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, a region that stretches from Superior to Wausau, is in a unique position due to the recent retirement of Representative Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, which led to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, D-WI, to schedule a special election for the seat on May 12 with primaries to be held on Feb. 18. 

Both Republican and Democratic primary races are contested with two candidates in the running for both.

Tom Tiffany
Photo from Tiffany campaign Facebook page

Wisconsin State Senator Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, currently represents Wisconsin’s District 12. Born to a dairy farming family from Elmwood, he completed a degree in agricultural economics at UW-River Falls. 

Tiffany went on to work as a manager at a petroleum distribution form and worked as a dam tender. He was also the owner/operator of a river excursion company. In 2011, he was elected to Wisconsin’s State Assembly and assumed his state senator office in 2013. 

Notable Endorsements: Tiffany is endorsed by several notable Wisconsin republicans like former Governors Scott Walker and Tommy Thompson, along with the retiring Duffy. Several state lobbying organizations like Wisconsin Right to Life, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association, and Wisconsin Club for Growth have also endorsed Tiffany. He is also endorsed by the US Chamber of Commerce and the NRA

Views: Tiffany has emphasized in campaign ads that he has worked as a dam tender. “Nobody knows how to drain the swamp like a dam man.” Many of his promises on national policy issues overlap with those of his opponent. On affordable health care, Tiffany emphasizes that “The solution does not lie in Washington D.C. It’s to return control to the state and local level.”  On his campaign website, Tiffany encourages the delisting of the gray wolf and a convention of states. 

Tricia Zunker
Photo from Zunker campaign Facebook page

Tricia Zunker, a Wausau resident, is a member of the Wausau school board and an associate justice of the Ho-Chunk supreme court. Born to a unionized labor family of the Ho-Chunk Nation, Zunker became the first member of her family to graduate college after studying French, political science, and international relations at UW-Madison. She then received a J.D. at the University of California Los Angeles. In 2007, Zunker began teaching law remotely, and is currently a professor at three universities. 

Notable Endorsements: State Senator Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, State Representatives Nick Milroy, D-South Range, and Beth Meyers, D-Bayfield, have all endorsed Zunker. She has also received national recognition from Debra Haaland, D-N.M., the only other Native American tribal member in Congress. Local union organizations, including the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and United Steelworks District 2, have also endorsed Zunker. 

Views: Zunker, in her campaign ads, says she will use the same “big voice” that the Ho-Chunk people have while representing the district. She is opposed to the trade war with China. On the fragility of small dairy, Zunker explained that her heart is broken seeing what is happening to dairy farmers. “We need to ensure that our farmers have a fair shake.” On healthcare, Zunker notes that the cost of prescription drugs is too high and that pre-existing conditions should be covered. 

Jason Church
Photo from Church campaign Facebook page

Jason Church, a resident of Hudson who grew up in a military family from Menomonie, Wisconsin, studied political science at UW-La Crosse. Joining the army as an office, he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012. He was medically discharged as a Captain after losing both legs to an IED. Afterwards, he worked as an aide for Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI, while completing a master’s in security studies at Georgetown University. He then moved to Hudson, Wis., where he completed a law degree.  

Notable Endorsements: Church is largely endorsed by notables from outside of Wisconsin. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Charlie Kirk have all endorsed Church. Lobbying organizations that support veterans, like SEAL PAC and Combat Veterans for Congress, have also endorsed Church. 

Views: Church has emphasized that he is with President Trump to “throw a couple grenades into the swamp. He needs someone to pick a fight with him.” He agrees with Tiffany on topics such as building a southern border wall, protecting gun rights, and supporting the tariff based trade war. Church’s military experience is central when discussing matters of national defense. 

Lawrence Dale
Photo from Dale campaign Facebook page

Lawrence Dale is a resident of Hurley, Wisconsin, and formerly Ironwood, Michigan, who was born in Dearborn, Michigan. Dale served in the Vietnam War as an artilleryman and used his GI Bill funds to study government at Ohio University, going on to get a master’s degree in labor relations from Oregon University. After working in labor relations in Michigan, Dale founded a value-added meat business in 1994.  He is currently an insurance salesman and has made two other attempts to contest election races. 

Notable Endorsements: Dale has not been recognized by any local organizations or local political figures. 

Views: Dale is a self-described “Berniecrat” who previously ran for office as a Green Party candidate and as an FDR-Democrat. Many of his policy points echo that of leading progressive Democrats. On small dairy farms, Dale noted “That whole emphasis that they’re inefficient is completely wrong.” Dale also believes an industrial hemp industry would boost the economy throughout the 7th District, saying, “Too many jobs are being lost in the pulp and paper industry…have they really looked at the potential for [industrial hemp]?”