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Former Cuban Refugee, Mosinee Mayor Consider Congressional Runs


Congressman Sean Duffy’s sudden resignation announcement last month surprised many people in northern Wisconsin.

But not long after we learned the news, potential candidates started thinking about running to replace him.

State Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) became the first candidate to jump into the congressional race last Tuesday, but he may well face a test in his own party.

Speaking by phone from his mother’s 91st birthday party in Miami, Wausau heart surgeon and Cuban refugee Dr. Fritz Riveron said he’s gotten encouragement to run for the seat as a Republican.

“What would be cooler than somebody who was on a plane from Cuba at age five trying to escape Castro’s world…and then being able to do something as momentous as running for Congress?” he said.

Riveron puts immigration, the environment, and health care at the top of his issue list.  He said there aren’t enough doctors in Congress.

Riveron is not sure longtime elected officials have the right perspective.

“The career politician issue has bothered me for a long time.  So people have known that I’ve engaged in that topic over the years,” Riveron said.  “A number of people have come to me and said, why don’t you do it?”

One current politician also thinking about running is 35-year-old Mosinee Mayor Brent Jacobson.

The Republican challenged, and lost to, incumbent state Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) in a primary last fall.

Jacobson said Tiffany’s candidacy has no effect on his decision.

“If I was discouraged by that, I would have never done the unthinkable and challenged a sitting incumbent in Rep. Spiros, who had, in that case, even more machinery,” Jacobson said.

He promised to run a clean campaign if he decides to jump in.

“I certainly go very hard on the issues, but I learned from my father, a long time ago, who was in politics, I don’t do anything in terms of personal attacks,” Jacobson said.  “It’s not what the voters want to hear, and I think it’s a waste of time.”

State Sen. Jerry Petrowski of Marathon City and Rep. Romaine Quinn of Rice Lake have already passed on joining the Republican primary.

Both Riveron and Jacobson plan to decide on a run within the next few weeks.

Former Gov. Scott Walker has already endorsed Tiffany, while current Gov. Tony Evers has not yet set a date for a special election.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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