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Navy SEAL vet Van Orden flips WI house seat for GOP

Derrick Van Orden speaks during a campaign rally for President Trump at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, Wisconsin on Oct. 27, 2020. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune/TNS)
November 09, 2022

U.S. Navy SEAL veteran Derrick Van Orden has flipped a Wisconsin congressional seat to Republicans as that party edges closer to control of the House of Representatives.

The SEAL veteran defeated Democratic state Sen. Brad Pfaff in a contest for the open seat left behind by retiring Democratic Rep. Ron Kind, who had held the seat since 1997, the Associated Press reported.

Van Orden led Pfaff by 4 points Tuesday afternoon with 96 percent of votes reported, according to results reported by the Associated Press.

The flip of a Democrat-held seat comes as Republicans are hopeful to flip control of the House of Representatives.

The SEAL veteran won a district that has recently trended toward Republicans on the western border of Wisconsin, a state narrowly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

Van Orden joined the Navy when he was 18 and served 26 years before retiring as a senior chief in the SEALs, having been deployed into combat five times, according to his website. He was also one of several active-duty SEALs to appear in the 2012 film “Act of Valor.”

Here’s a scene from one of Van Orden’s main moments in the movie:

He was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Van Orden also campaigned with other Navy SEALs, forming a group called the SEAL PAC, which criticized President Joe Biden on a range of issues.

Van Orden was pictured posing with a group of protesters outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. A riot at the Capitol that day led to Trump’s second impeachment.

His presence at the riot was a line of attack for Pfaff during the election. Pfaff said it should have disqualified Van Orden from running, AP reported. 

In an op-ed, Van Orden wrote that the riot was “one of the most tragic incidents in the history of our nation.” He said he left the area after “a protest had become a mob” and never entered the Capitol.

Just before 3 a.m. the morning after Election Day, he tweeted, “Gratitude.”