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Tiffany Wins Northwoods Special Election For Congress

Republican State Senator Faced Wausau School Board President In Closely Watched Race

Vice President Mike Pence talks to 7th Congressional District Republican Congressional candidate Tom Tiffany
Vice President Mike Pence talks to 7th Congressional District Republican Congressional candidate Tom Tiffany at the airport after visiting the GE Healthcare manufacturing facility Tuesday April 21, 2020, in Madison, Wis. Morry Gash/AP Photo

A Northwoods state senator will be the next representative of the 7th Congressional District.

According to preliminary results, state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, won by about 14 percentage points, or about 28,000 votes. The Associated Press called the race shortly after 9 p.m.

The special election was called after Republican former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy resigned in September. Tiffany faced Democrat Tricia Zunker, the Wausau School Board president and a Ho-Chunk Supreme Court justice.

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Tiffany campaigned on a promise to be an ally to President Donald Trump, emphasizing his closeness to the president and steadfast support throughout the eight-month campaign.

In remarks on Facebook Live from his home, Tiffany called the win a “decisive victory.” He thanked Zunker for the campaign and said he will dedicate himself to promoting an economic recovery.

“I have one goal as I go out to Washington, D.C., and that is to get America back up on her feet again,” Tiffany said. “We’re Americans, and we’ve been through difficult times. We know how to go out and turn things around, and we will do that again.”

Trump, who repeatedly tweeted his endorsement of Tiffany in recent weeks, congratulated him Tuesday night, writing that “he will do a FANTASTIC job for the people of Wisconsin, and the United States.”

In an election night statement, Zunker’s campaign said the results show that Democrats have momentum in Wisconsin, pointing out that no Democratic House candidate has gotten more than 40 percent of the vote in the district since 2012.

“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,” Zunker said.

Both candidates have said they will run in November’s election for a full term.

Voters found protective barriers, hand-sanitizer stations and strict social distancing requirements at the polls. Across the district’s 700 municipalities, about 250 Wisconsin National Guard members assisted at polling locations.

The sprawling 7th Congressional District comprises all or part of 26 counties, including much of central Wisconsin and the Northwoods and all of northwestern Wisconsin. It has been a conservative stronghold, and voted for Trump by more than 20 points in 2016.

The global pandemic that struck in the middle of the campaign forced Tiffany and Zunker and their supporters to shift to online organizing events and virtual get-out-the-vote efforts. On Saturday, the Trump campaign boasted that volunteers had made more than 1 million phone calls to voters in the district supporting Tiffany’s campaign. The president has tweeted his endorsement of Tiffany several times in recent weeks.

Zunker had called for the election to be held entirely by mail, but Gov. Tony Evers did not push for a change. Both campaigns promoted absentee voting.

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