Aug. 12, 2021 — Veteran Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) said Tuesday that 26 years in the House of Representatives will be enough. He told the covering reporters that he is “out of gas,” and will not seek re-election in 2022. Kind was first elected to his southwestern Badger State congressional district in 1996.
In his remarks, the congressman said he is ” . . . part of a dying breed in public service today in Washington and certainly in Madison — someone who tried to be reasonable, pragmatic, thoughtful, worked hard to try to find common ground with my colleagues, work in a bipartisan way to find bipartisan solutions for the challenges that we face.”
Wisconsin’s 3rd District is one of seven seats in the country that voted for ex-President Trump in both 2020 and 2016 (Trump ’20: 51-47 percent; Trump ’16: 49-45 percent) and elects a Democrat to the House. Kind’s 2020 election percentage margin, 51-49, was the closest of his long career. Over his 11 re-election campaigns not including 2020, the long-time incumbent averaged 64.8 percent of the general election vote.
Rep. Kind’s 2020 November opponent, retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden (R), had already announced his return for a re-match and had raised just over $750,000 since the beginning of this year, holding more than $600,000 in his campaign account according to the June 30 financial disclosure report. Despite his retirement announcement, Kind had been active in raising money, bringing in over $630,000 since the beginning of the year and was in strong financial shape with just under $1.4 million in the bank at the June 30 reporting deadline.
Therefore, and considering his active work in the district this year, the retirement announcement comes as a surprise. Examining the district’s recent changing voting history, since the electorate posted 55 percent for President Obama in 2012 to Rep. Kind having a close re-election eight years later, WI-3 likely becomes the Republicans’ top national conversion target, at least for the short term.
The 3rd District sits in the far western corner of the state, beginning at the southwestern tip of the Wisconsin southern border, just across the Mississippi River from Dubuque, Iowa. It then travels northward up the Iowa and Minnesota borders to encompass its two population anchor cities of La Crosse and Eau Claire, that house just over 52,000 and 67,000 individuals, respectively. The district then moves east to capture some of the central Wisconsin rural areas.