MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Derrick Van Orden went before voters Tuesday hoping to flip a western Wisconsin congressional seat to the GOP — and win a spot in the House less than two years after he was nearby on the day that insurrectionists violently breached the building.
Van Orden is among a handful of people who were in Washington on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection and are now running for Congress. The former Navy SEAL has denied taking any part, but Democrat Brad Pfaff argued to voters that his presence should be disqualifying.
Van Orden vastly outraised Pfaff and had the advantage of running in a district along the state’s western border that has been trending toward conservatives. But he had to defend himself against questions about his presence on or near the U.S. Capitol grounds during the insurrection when rioters violently breached the building in an attempt to block certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
Van Orden said he was in Washington for political meetings when he attended then-President Donald Trump’s rally outside the White House shortly before the Capitol attack. A Facebook photo from that day appears to show Van Orden posing with a small handful of protesters on the Capitol grounds, but Van Orden has said the suggestion he was within the restricted area is “inaccurate.”