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Tiffany, Church fight for GOP nomination

Tiffany, Church fight for GOP nomination Tiffany, Church fight for GOP nomination

State Sen. Tom Tiffany and retired Army Captain Jason Church had few disagreements during a Dec. 12 debate at the Westwood Conference Center, Wausau, but alternatively took orthodox conservative or populist stances in stating otherwise similar right-wing views.

In the hour and a half long debate, the two Republican candidates for the Seventh Congressional District emphasized support for President Donald Trump, slammed “socialist” proposals, including free college tuition and Medicare For All, warned that the Chinese were the nation’s biggest military threat, endorsed the sanctity of life and said they would bring the national debt under control.

The candidates were stylistically different in reaching these same conclusions. Tiffany, elected to the State Assembly in 2010 and, later, in 2012, to the State Senate, presented a button-downed, if forceful brand of conservatism. Church, who lost both legs in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan, presented himself as a populist flame thrower, angrily blasting the Washington, D.C. “swamp” and branding the progressive left, including Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as “ridiculous.”

The difference between the candidates showed up most clearly in one dispute. This concerned whether the federal government should continue to pay contractors a prevailing wage under the labor union-supported Davis-Bacon Act.

In a question over what to do with the federal government’s $23 trillion national debt, Church said there needed to be cuts to “ridiculous” mandatory spending, such as Medicare, which, if not reformed, would edge out national defense as a spending priority.

In response, Tiffany said he, too, was concerned about the national debt and deficit, adding that he supported President Trump in cutting the nation’s food stamp program.

Going further, however, Tiffany said he opposed the federal government paying a prevailing wage to contractors, noting that, in voting out the prevailing wage in Wisconsin, state and local governments have saved millions of dollars, which helped erase a Gov. Doyle $3 billion deficit. He accused Church of supporting the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage and, in turn, failing to support President Trump.

“I voted to repeal our Davis-Bacon law here in Wisconsin and we did it to save money for taxpayers,” he said. ”This is a distinct difference between me and my opponent in this race. I support the repeal of the Davis-Bacon law at the federal level. My opponent does not. It leads to higher costs for roads, bridges. If you are going to drain the swamp, you are going to have to do it with stuff like this. I stand with President Trump to drain the swamp and this is a perfect place to do it. My opponent is not with us in draining the swamp.”

Church, in response, said Tiffany was “ridiculous” and his comments were part of a “hit job” on his campaign.

He said he was foursquare aligned not just with Trump, but also former Congressman Rep. Sean Duffy on the Davis-Bacon Act.

“President Trump and Sean Duffy both have supported these things for the exact same reason that I have,” he said. “I have gone around northern Wisconsin and I have listened to the families and communities up here. And these are things that, quite frankly, we need. Northern Wisconsin needs this. If you want to take your marching orders from people down in Madison and Milwaukee, please be my guest, but I will fight every single day for the people of northern Wisconsin. If you want to say you’ll stand with President Trump, you better put your money where your mouth is on this one.”

About the candidates

Jason Church, a Menomonie native, earned a four-year ROTC degree from UW-La Crosse and, as an Army second lieutenant, lost his legs in August 2012 in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. After his medical retirement as a captain, Church received a masters degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from UW-Madison. He has worked for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. He is engaged to his fiancé Bella Barbosa of Brazil.

Tom Tiffany graduated from Elwood High School and UW-River Falls. He worked as a dam tender for the Wisconsin Valley Improvement Co. and ran a cruise business on the Willow Flowage. He was elected to the Assembly in 2010 and the state senate in 2012. He has been married to Chris for 30 years and the couple has three daughters.