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Former CIA officer joins Wisconsin congressional race

November 9, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A former CIA officer and daughter of a former congressman is joining the Democratic primary for a western Wisconsin congressional seat that’s expected to be one of the hardest-fought races in the country next year.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported that Deb McGrath, from Menomonie, announced her candidacy on Tuesday. She is seeking to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Ron Kind.

Other Democrats already in the race are state Sen. Brad Pfaff, of Onalaska, Eau Claire business owner Rebecca Cooke and U.S. Navy veteran Brett Knudsen. They will square off in the Aug. 9 primary.

Kind endorsed Pfaff, who formerly worked for Kind.

Republican Derrick Van Orden is running for the district again after being narrowly defeated by Kind in 2020. Former President Donald Trump backs Van Orden.

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Republicans have targeted the race as one they can flip next year, especially under newly proposed maps that would make the district more favorable to the GOP.

McGrath worked in national security positions for 25 years in both the CIA and the Department of State. She also served as a captain in the U.S. Army.

Her father, Al Baldus, represented the district from 1975 to 1981 in Congress.

If elected, McGrath would be the first woman to represent the district.