An Army veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan has become the second Republican to announce a bid for Congress to replace GOP Rep. Sean Duffy, saying Tuesday that he will join the president in defending veterans, protecting the border and fighting “socialist interference” in the economy.
Jason Church joins a fellow Republican, state Sen. Tom Tiffany, of Hazelhurst, as the first two announced candidates for the 7th Congressional District in northern and central Wisconsin. Church’s campaign launch comes a day after Duffy resigned his seat to prepare for the birth of his ninth child, who has been diagnosed with a heart defect.
Like Tiffany, Church aligned himself closely with President Donald Trump, who easily won the congressional district in 2016 by 20 points.
“President Trump is making tough decisions,” Church said in his campaign launch video. “He’s trying to secure our border, he’s trying to create jobs, but he needs help. He needs people who come from outside politics, people who don’t owe anything to anyone, people who just want to do things right.”
Church promised to serve no more than eight years, or four terms, in Congress.
“I’m never going to get caught up in the swamp,” he said.
His campaign announcement promised that Church would “stand with President Trump to secure our borders, protect the most vulnerable among us, stand up for our veterans, and make sure Wisconsin’s economic recovery is protected from socialist interference.”
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Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler said Church made it clear that he will “carry water for the GOP and their agenda to sabotage Wisconsinites’ health care and wage a chaotic trade war at the expense of Wisconsin workers and rural communities.”
Church speaks in the video about the explosion in 2012 while he was serving in Afghanistan that resulted in him losing both of his legs below the knees. His website also includes photos of him recovering in the hospital following the bomb blast and standing on his prosthetic legs.
Church, 30, earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin after returning from Afghanistan and started working for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican, in 2013. He held that job until recently, according to his campaign. A native of Menomonie, Church now lives in Hudson.
Cuban-born Wausau thoracic surgeon Fernando “Fritz” Riveron is also considering a run as a Republican.
On the Democratic side, those considering a bid include state Rep. Nick Milroy, of South Range; state Sen. Janet Bewley, of Mason; Wausau attorney Christine Bremer Muggli; and Margaret Engebretson, a political newcomer in 2018 who ran against Duffy and got 38% of the vote.
Former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow, of Chippewa Falls, said Tuesday he would not run after considering a bid. Kreitlow ran for the seat against Duffy in 2012 and lost.
The primary is Dec. 30 with the general election Jan. 27.