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La Crosse area draws big-name politicians again during 2022 campaign



Wisconsin got lots of attention as a so-called “battleground state” during the 2022 campaign season. 

Presidents Biden, Trump, and Obama all paid visits to the Badger State to help candidates for governor or U.S. Senate, but none of them got to La Crosse County this year.  However, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who could become speaker in the new session, met with farmers at Brice Prairie in June while campaigning with eventual Congressman-elect Derrick Van Orden, who won the 3rd District House seat in November.  

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and candidate Derrick Van Orden visit a Brice Prairie dairy farm in June of 2022

“These Democratic policies that have increased the price of fuel from a diesel and others…the inflation with their runaway spending for the feed and others make it very difficult for the American farmer to survive, especially here in Wisconsin,” McCarthy told local reporters during a farm visit.

A political star for the Democrats spoke in La Crosse the week before the election, when Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders headed a get-out-the-vote rally at the UWL campus. Sanders downplayed widespread claims of voting fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Bernie Sanders speaks at UW-L rally on Nov. 4th, 2022

“When you’re an adult, you don’t go around saying in a democracy, that the only reason I lost was fraud. No, the other guy got more votes than I did. That happens,” said Sanders.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party was holding its convention at the La Crosse Center the same week that the Supreme Court reversed the Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion.  Democratic Governor Tony Evers spoke about the ruling during the convention.

“I have seven grandkids that are girls or young women,” Evers said on June 25th, the day after the court ruling. “Yesterday, they were made second-class citizens. That’s bull—-.”

Evers and his Republican challenger Tim Michels both came to La Crosse during Oktoberfest, and campaigned again in the area just before the election. 

In the Senate race, Democrat Mandela Barnes was a frequent visitor to La Crosse during the campaign.  A few days before the election, Republican Senator Ron Johnson brought his campaign bus to Onalaska.

US Sen. Ron Johnson speaks at a campaign rally outside the La Crosse County Republican Party headquarters in Onalaska on Nov. 1, 2022. (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

“I think this country’s become more and more divided,” Johnson told reporters at his local rally. “I think I can help make things better. I think I can help unify and heal this nation.”

Both Evers and Johnson won new terms to their jobs in the November election.

For the first time in three years, La Crosse County did not get a presidential visit in 2022. Joe Biden came to La Crosse in June of 2021, and Donald Trump held a campaign rally in West Salem at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway a week before the 2020 election.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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