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Primary to pick GOP candidates
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Locally primaries will be held Tuesday to choose a Republican candidate for the Third Congressional District and a Republican candidate in Wisconsin Senate District 31.


During this partisan primary, voters may vote on the ballot of only one party.

Third District Congress

In the Third Congressional District, which includes Pierce County, there will be a three-way primary to choose the Republican candidate to oppose Democratic incumbent Ron Kind, La Crosse.

Republican candidates in the Third District are:

--Tony Kurtz, Prairie du Chien, who retired from the U.S. Army after 20 years active duty.

Kurtz enlisted after high school. His first assignment after completing flight school in 1986 was in Germany, where he witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall. He flew Cobra helicopters in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and was deployed in 2003 to Operation Iraqi Freedom as an accident investigator on Army aircraft accidents.

While in the Army, Kurtz earned his Bachelor’s in professional aeronautics and his Master’s in international relations.

After retiring, he started Kaynick Solutions LLC, teaching military units accident investigation and safety program management.

Kurtz’s website is

--Karen L. Mueller, Chippewa Falls, who is a civil rights and employment law attorney.

She graduated from the University of North Dakota’s School of Law and was admitted to the Wisconsin Bar in 2001. Her undergraduate education was in finance with a minor in accounting.

Mueller’s law practice has included both sanctity of life issues and religious freedom/right of conscience cases.

She believes the Constitution is being “shredded by multiple attacks” by the current administration through Obamacare mandates, NSA spying on citizens, the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups for protected First Amendment activities and the over-reaching of authority by the president through executive orders.

Mueller’s website is

--Ken Van Doren, Mauston, who says he has advocated for individual rights, a constitutional government and fiscal responsibility for over 30 years as a public speaker and citizen lobbyist.

He is an honors graduate of UW-Madison with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked as a research assistant. He owned a tool franchise and was a building contractor.

Van Doren is a former Mauston City Council member, former president of the Coon Valley Lions Club and a youth football, soccer and hockey coach.

He serves on the Juneau County GOP’s board of directors and says he has spent much time helping other candidates.

Van Doren’s website is

State Senate

In the State Senate District 31, which includes much of Pierce County, voters will be asked to choose between two Republicans to challenge Democratic incumbent Kathleen Vinehout.

The GOP candidates are:

--Mel Pittman, Plum City, who owns and operates a 75-cow dairy farm in Pierce County.

Pittman served on the Pierce County Board for 10 years. He was elected to a term as state board president of Wisconsin Associated County Extension Committees.

He served as executive chairman for Wisconsin Farm Technology Days held in Pierce County in 2010. In March 2013, he received the Wisconsin Master Agriculturist and Farmer Award.

Pittman served on the UW-River Falls Ag Advisory Committee for five years.

He says he believes less government, less dependence and more personal responsibility allow more freedom, which strengthens communities and the country.

His campaign website is

--Bill Ingram, Durand, who retired from law enforcement after 20 years.

“I have a wide variety of life experiences, and my specialty is common sense problem-solving,” said Ingram.

He is or has been a firefighter, an EMS first responder, a director of emergency management, a search and rescue pilot, and a county board member.

He served six years in the U.S. Air Force, spending over two years as an agent with the Office of Special Investigations and a year in Europe working VIP protection on an antiterrorism team.

He has been a farmer and vice president of a software development company.

His website is

Although there will be contests in November for other local seats in the Wisconsin Legislature, there will be no August primaries for them.

Judy Wiff
Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.
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