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Stevens Point student is first Republican challenger to announce campaign against US Sen. Tammy Baldwin

Rejani Raveendran wants to 'bring the perspective of regular people and regular moms to DC'

U.S. capitol building at dawn
The U.S. Capitol is seen at dawn in Washington. Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

The first Republican challenger has emerged in the contest to unseat U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2024.

Rejani Raveendran, a 40-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and mother of three, announced her candidacy Tuesday evening at an event in Stevens Point.

In an interview with WPR before the event, Raveendran said she is running to “bring the perspective of regular people and regular moms to DC.”

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“I am not a multimillionaire, I’m not a businesswoman, I am not a career politician,” she said. “I’m a regular mom, who knows the struggles of the regular people.”

The announcement comes a week after U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, announced he won’t challenge Baldwin, and two months after Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, declared the same. Those two members of the Wisconsin delegation were considered top contenders for the competitive seat.

This will be incumbent Democrat Baldwin’s third Senate race. She won her 2018 election by 11 percentage points, and has made a strong fundraising showing to date, with a campaign war chest of about $5.5 million.

The Baldwin campaign declined to comment.

Raveendran, who immigrated to the U.S. from India in 2011 and is a U.S. citizen, said that some of her top campaign issues will be to secure the border, particularly to halt the flow of opiates, and to curb illegal immigration.

“As I am an immigrant, I know the value of legal immigration and I know … the drawbacks of illegal immigration,” she said. “We are a country of legal immigrants. We are immigrants in this country but … I immigrated here legally, fulfilling all the legal process.”

Raveendran said she was inspired to run after traveling to Washington, D.C., as part of her political science and international relations studies at UWSP. Before returning to school, she was a registered nurse and midwife. She moved to Wisconsin in 2017.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin declined to comment, because the party doesn’t work on primary campaigns.

Some other Republicans have indicated interest in the seat, including Franklin businessman Scott Mayer, Madison businessman Eric Hovde and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

Clarke has not previously run a statewide campaign. Hovde ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2012, coming up short to former Gov. Tommy Thompson in a four-way GOP primary.

In a statement, Arik Wolk, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Democratic Party, did not refer to Raveendran directly.

“Congratulations to Wisconsin Republicans on officially kicking off yet another messy GOP primary that is likely to feature Sheriff David Clarke and two multi-millionaires — one from California and one who can’t be bothered to vote.”