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Candidates adjust strategies before Wisconsin special election Tuesday

Updated: May 11, 2020 07:00 PM

About a month after Wisconsin's controversial spring election, voters in a northern section of the state will once again head to the polls. 

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Tuesday's special election is to fill the 7th congressional district seat vacated by Sean Duffy in September 2019. 

Tom Tiffany (R) and Tricia Zunker (D) will be on the ballot. Zunker said she pushed for both the April 7 and May 12 elections to be by mail, but even though that didn't happen, she wants people to exercise their right to vote. 

"If they are going to the polls because they aren't doing absentee ballot requests, then to please wear a mask, practice safe social distancing in the interest of the health and safety of everybody, but especially our pollworkers," Zunker said.

Tiffany said he was a pollworker himself in April.

"While a little chaotic, the local clerks did a terrific job," he said. "So I think it was a good learning curve with the April 7 election. And now I think May 12, the clerks I talk to, they're ready to go."

Both candidates' original campaign strategies were tossed out the window when Gov. Tony Evers issued his Safer at Home order. 

Tiffany said he's been conducting business on the phone and mailing out campaign information. Zunker has held events on Facebook Live and done a listening session via Zoom. Both say it's preparing them to enter a House of Representatives that isn't meeting in person. 

"There's other ways that we can get things done," Zunker said. 

"Nothing like jumping into the fire," Tiffany said. 

The first thing Tiffany, a current state Senator, said he would do if elected is an assessment. 

"Really do an assessment of the bills that have passed, the programs that have been put in place because it's meant to protect people who are unemployed through no fault of their own and the business owners that have lost a lot of business or been forced to close down through no fault of their own," he said. 

Zunker, a Wausau School Board member, said she'd jump into finding sustainable solutions, not Bandaids. 

"We don't know how long this is going to last," she said. "It is difficult, uncertain times, and there is even reports coming out of a second wave of this in the fall. So we need to do everything we can at the outset here to make sure that we can eliminate that risk in the fall." 

Healthcare is one of the issues that initially prompted her to run.

"Making sure that people have affordable, accessible healthcare and ensuring that people with preexisting conditions stay protected," Zunker said is one of her top priorities. 

Tiffany has other concerns in the healthcare space related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"People are putting off their healthcare, the conditions they have, not getting mammograms, colonoscopies, things like that. Are we going to end up doing more harm as a result of closing down our healtchare facilities?" he asked. "That's something that really concerns me at this point."

The two agree that the pandemic has highlighted the need to expand rural broadband access. 

"To see the problems that people have with accessible broadband, ultimately what it means is they're being deprived of opportunity," Zunker said. 

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. Voters should expect to see physical distancing measures and enhanced cleaning protocols. 

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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