Pierce County GOP, relocated to River Falls, enters final days of campaign

Posted October 27, 2020

With the 2020 general election less than a week away, last-minute campaigning is speeding up throughout the U.S. to attract voters who remain undecided. Pierce County and the rest of Wisconsin find themselves again in a swing state, just as they did during the last presidential election in 2016.

This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting everyday lives for Americans, many people have been voting from home by mail. In Wisconsin, over 1.7 million people have requested absentee ballots, with 9,073 of those ballots being requested in Pierce County as of Oct. 25, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

The Republican Party of Pierce County has moved its office from Ellsworth and is now just off Second Street near downtown River Falls. The office is the local headquarters for people looking for items like GOP campaign lawn signs, flags, buttons and hats.

“Of course we have the signs out in our office lawn so that people can become familiar with the names of candidates that are in the Republican Party here,” said Betty Stenglein, a volunteer with the Pierce County GOP office. “We have plenty of signs and so people have been coming in and getting signs as they were being taken away.”

Stealing of the presidential candidate signs has been happening all over America this election season. Even in River Falls, people are stealing Biden/Harris and Trump/Pence signs alike from residential lawns.

“They were stolen, yeah,” said Stenglein. “They are just replacements and stuff like that. Got plenty of signs here. Basically what we’re here for is for people to be aware of the names and become comfortable with the names.”

That is why at the end of each business day, the Pierce County GOP office takes all its signs off the lawn to avoid theft.

Republican candidates on this year’s ballot include Rep. Shannon Zimmerman of River Falls, the incumbent serving District 30 in the Wisconsin State Assembly. He is being challenged by Democrat Sarah Yacoub of Hudson.

Just to the south, State Rep. Warren Petryk, a Republican, is seeking another term to serving District 93 in the State Assembly. He is challenged by Charlene Warner, a Democrat from Mondovi, Wisconsin. The district includes most of Pierce County except for River Falls.

Rep. Rob Stafsholt, a Republican from New Richmond, is currently serving District 29 in the State Assembly. He is challenging Democratic incumbent Sen. Patty Schachtner of Somerset for the District 10 Wisconsin State Senate seat.

Republican Kathy Fuchs is running unopposed for Pierce County treasurer.

Derrick Van Orden of Hager City is the Republican candidate challenging Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Ron Kind in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District.

The website for the Pierce County GOP has not been updated in some time with news about campaign or events the party is hosting in the community. Meanwhile, the party’s Facebook page has not been known for posting reliable sources on the election for its viewers. News links commonly posted on the page include sources such as Real Clear Politics, News Max, Fox News and PJ Media. Fox News and PJ Media are labeled by the nonpartisan media watchdog organization Ad Fontes Media as having “some” to “serious reliability issues and/or extremism.” Real Clear Politics and News Max are listed as reliable for news, but high in political analysis.

In contrast to the Pierce County GOP’s online activity, the St. Croix County Republican Party has been much more active on its website. For example, under the events tab, the St. Croix GOP lists its monthly executive meetings and a flag-waving event on the 11th Street bridge over Interstate 94 in Hudson.

At the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, the College Republicans student organization is no longer active. UW-River Falls Student Involvement said the group no longer meets nor is a recognized student organization on campus. The reason why is still unknown at this time.

In the last presidential election in 2016, Pierce County voters cast 11,272 ballots for Republican Donald Trump compared to 8,399 for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.