Three candidates are running in the August 13th Democratic primary in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District

Rebecca Cooke (D), Katrina Shankland (D), and Eric Wilson (D) are running in the Democratic primary for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District on August 13, 2024. Incumbent Derrick Van Orden (R) is running for re-election.

Wisconsin TV station WEAU’s political analyst John Frank called the third district “the purplest of the purple” of Wisconsin’s congressional districts, referring to its competitive political makeup. Van Orden defeated Brad Pfaff (D) 51.8% to 48.1% in 2022. In 2020, incumbent Ron Kind (D) defeated Van Orden 51.3% to 48.6%.

The Wisconsin Independent’s Olivia Herken said the three Democratic candidates agreed on many issues: “While the Democrats’ positions overlap on many issues — all three want Congress to codify reproductive rights, for example — they’re trying to find daylight between each other by defining their personalities, experience and what issues matter most to them.”

Cooke, a small business owner, served on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Brad Pfaff defeated her in the 2022 primary 38.9% to 31.1%. Cooke has focused on her work experience and what she says is her ability to connect with the district’s voters: “I’m running a campaign that’s really focused on my lived experiences and we saw that personal narrative really connect with voters across the district, and they know I’ve experienced a lot of the same hardship they have, and I’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Cooke has received the endorsement of the Blue Dog Coalition and the New Democrat Coalition.

Shankland was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 2012. She has focused on her legislative experience and winning elections. Shankland told reporters at her campaign launch: “Not only will I have a strong base here in Portage County and central Wisconsin, but I think a lot of voters were interested in seeing the 150-plus bills that I passed into law and the track record of building a large coalition of people, not just Democrats who support me, will be interested in that message across the third.” Labor unions in the district and Congressman Mark Pocan (D) endorsed Shankland.

Wilson has worked in the real estate and healthcare industries. He said: “I’m running to help everyone who has struggled. I want to be that advocate for western Wisconsin to uplift struggling families, to lessen the burden that we’re seeing.” The UW Exponent said Wilson decided to run: “…after the Colorado Springs, CO, shooting, saying, ‘We (the LGBTQ+ community) will continue to get killed. Thoughts and prayers aren’t working, clearly. What can I do?’” PBS Wisconsin’s Nathan Denzin said of Wilson’s campaign: “Wilson has positioned himself as the most progressive candidate in the Democratic primary field. The third candidate to enter the race, Wilson lists ‘Medicare for All,’ a ‘Green New Deal,’ and a ceasefire in Gaza among his top issues on his campaign website.” Wilson has received the endorsements of Our Wisconsin Revolution and the Center for Freethought Equality.

As of June 25, 2024, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter ranked the general election Lean Republican. Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales and Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball ranked the race as Likely Republican.