Wisconsin state Sen. Brad Pfaff.

Pfaff, McGrath won’t run for Congress in 2024

August 30, 2023 10:31 AM

So far, two candidates, Rebecca Cooke and Aaron Nytes, have declared their candidacy for Congress in the state's third district.

By: Jimmie Kaska

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLCX) – The Democratic field in Wisconsin’s Congressional District 3 remains at two candidates after a pair of last year’s names on the primary ballot say they won’t run again next year.

State Sen. Brad Pfaff of Onalaska and former CIA officer Deb McGrath of Menomonie both said that they will not run again in 2024 for the House of Representatives.

Pfaff told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he would be focusing on re-election to the state Senate, where he is currently serving his first term. Republican Derrick Van Orden defeated Pfaff last year for the seat in Congress, replacing longtime representative Ron Kind, who had endorsed Pfaff.

McGrath finished third in the Democratic primary behind Pfaff and Rebecca Cooke in 2022.

Cooke, who was the first Democrat to announce their candidacy for the election, has been campaigning this summer in western Wisconsin, including stops in Platteville, Stevens Point, Eau Claire, and La Crosse. At her stop in Platteville, Cooke said that she thought getting out ahead of a potentially-crowded field of candidates would help her campaign the second time around after finishing behind Pfaff in last year’s primary.

Wisconsin Congressional candidate Rebecca Cooke speaks to supporters at her "Cooke Out" campaign stop in Platteville, Wis. on Aug. 6, 2023.
Wisconsin Congressional candidate Rebecca Cooke speaks to supporters at her “Cooke Out” campaign stop in Platteville, Wis. on Aug. 6, 2023.

One other candidate, Aaron Nytes, has also declared their candidacy in CD-3. Nytes lives in Massachusetts and previously attended Marquette University. The Journal-Sentinel reports that Assembly Rep. Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point, former La Crosse County Board chair Tara Johnson and WEDC CEO Missy Hughes are also weighing campaigns for the seat.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee said “Voters know Derrick Van Orden is working to clean up Democrats’ mess, which is why these Democrats refuse to challenge him.”

Van Orden is in his first term in Congress.

The Spring Primary is on Feb. 20, 2024. You can register to vote, check what will be on your ballot, and find more information on primaries and elections in Wisconsin at My Vote Wisconsin.

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