Van Orden, Pfaff reflect on close Third Congressional District race

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Derrick Van Orden won an unexpectedly close race for Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District; he defeated Democrat Brad Pfaff by 4%.

The GOP did not see the red wave they anticipated. Nevertheless, Republicans did claim victory in races scattered throughout the country.

Van Orden’s race win was one of them– but it was a harder fight than expected.

The race was so close, Derrick Van Orden did not claim victory for the race until well after midnight.

“I will not give up the values of the people of the third district of Wisconsin—understand that I hold and share with them and that is why they voted me into office,” Van Orden, addressing supporters.

Van Orden’s win didn’t come as a surprise. But the close margin did.

“You know, four points is enough—you can imagine this race potentially tuning out differently,” Chergosky said.

Pfaff told News 8 now he is thankful for the voters’ support. He was not surprised that his race was close.

“Too many political pundits had made a decision on what was going to happen in the race before the voters had the opportunity to cast their own ballots,” Pfaff said.

“Western Wisconsin is unpredictable,” Chergosky said. “From election to election, the vote in Western Wisconsin can change.”

Van Orden campaigned as the face for that change.

“It doesn’t matter where you start in this country. You can achieve your goals. You can aspire,” Van Orden said.

He ran for this same seat just two years ago, losing to Ron Kind.

“Where Brad Pfaff not only had to get through a competitive process to win the party’s nomination, but then he had to introduce himself to voters in this district, and, oh yeah, he also had to do that without much support from his political party,” Chergosky said.

Van Orden raised significantly more money.

In the weeks leading up to election day, the national Democratic party pulled funding from Pfaff’s campaign.

“I would’ve won this race if there had been greater resources placed into this campaign,” Pfaff said.

Van Orden steps into the seat that has not been red for 26 years.

“This represents a change in party control for this district, and that will have an effect on public policy in this area,” Chergosky said.

“We have to get back to representing everyone,” Van Orden said.

And his constituents will be watching.

Van Orden emphasized his political outsider status in his thank you speech last night, and his desire to get to work and instill term limits in congress.

Pfaff says that for now, he plans to spend time with his family and continue working to represent his constituents as a state senator.