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Margaret Engebretson is running for a seat in Wisconsin's seventh congressional district.

Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy will face a Democratic challenger for his seat in November. Margaret Engebretson believes she is the right candidate for the job.

Engebretson, who announced her bid in February, is a military veteran of 24 years, former union worker and attorney. She has has competition in the Democratic primary with Brian Ewert, Kyle Frenette, David Beeksma and Bob Look all vying for the nomination.

Engebretson is a relative newcomer to politics. When she retired from the military in 2015, she had never been a member of a political party. She later became an active member of the Polk County Democrats and went through Emerge Wisconsin, a program designed to train and equip Democratic women to run for office.

“This hyper partisanship and all or nothing attitude basically gridlocked congress,” Engebretson said. “America is facing some serious big issues and it’s going to take cooperation and long term planning to get these things done.”

Engebretson feels she has the right experience to represent the people of Wisconsin’s seventh congressional district.

“My life experience as a military member, as a union worker, as an attorney really gave me a breadth of knowledge and experience that I think would be very advantageous for the people of the seventh congressional district to have as their representative,” she said.

Duffy’s voting record and support for Republican policies run counter to the interests of the people of the seventh, Engebretson said.

“Representative Sean Duffy has pursued policies and voted for bills that are harmful to the seventh congressional district,” Engebretson said. “He voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act without any replacement, he also voted for the tax bill in December of 2017, which basically exacerbated the income and wealth inequality in our nation… We need investment in our people, our schools our infrastructure. And we need a representative in congress that will be pushing for it and advocating for it.”

Engebretson has a Bachelor’s degree in History from UW Superior and a law degree from University of Wisconsin Law School. She currently lives in Balsam Lake where she runs Engebretson Law Office.

“I think that I have the broadest set of skills and education and experience to not only relate with the people in the district of all backgrounds, but I’m also well equipped to undertake being a legislature due to my background and educational experience,” Engebretson said.

If elected, Engebretson would be the first female congressional representative for the district. She is currently the only woman and only veteran in the race.

Although the Cook Political Report currently has Sean Duffy’s seat ranked as “likely Republican” Engebretson takes recent Democratic victories in previously Republican districts are a point of encouragement. In Wisconsin Senate District 10, where Engebretson lives, Democratic Candidate Patty Schachner won 55 percent of the vote over her Republican opponent Adam Jarchow’s 44 percent. The seat had previously been held by Republican Sheila Harsdorf for 16 years.

“It’s vital that we get leaders in this country that are more reflective of the entire population,” Engebretson said. “I think that several groups are feeling disaffected and not well taken care of. And woman are one of those groups.”

Juneau County is split between Wisconsin’s third and seventh congressional districts with the southern portion of the county being represented by Ron Kind and the northern portion by Sean Duffy.

Duffy was first elected to the House in 2010 and has since won three bids for reelection. Most recently, he defeated Democratic candidate Mary Hoeft by about 23.4 percentage points in 2016 and earning about 85,000 more votes than his opponent.

The Democratic primary is scheduled for Aug. 14.

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl


Juneau County Star-Times reporter