'Here & Now' Highlights: Anthony Chergosky, John Eason

Here's what guests on the October 21, 2022 episode said about the status of Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District campaigns and how race factors in attack ads against one of the U.S. Senate candidates.

By Frederica Freyberg | Here & Now

October 24, 2022

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John Eason and Frederica Freyberg sit facing each other on the Here & Now set.

John Eason and Frederica Freyberg (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District in western and central swaths of the state is a swing district where the Republican candidate Derrick Van Orden came in a very close second in 2020 and is running again in 2022 against the Democratic candidate Brad Pfaff — UW-La Crosse political science professor Anthony Chergosky assesses where the race stands in its final weeks. The U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin pits incumbent Ron Johnson against challenger Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in a campaign marked by what critics regard as racist attack ads — UW-Madison sociology professor John Eason analyzes their tone and potential impacts.


Anthony Chergosky
Professor, UW-La Crosse Department of Political Science and Public Administration

  • In the race for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, Trump-endorsed Republican Derrick Van Orden is ahead in polling and way ahead in campaign spending. The Democratic Party has pulled some of its money for its candidate Brad Pffaf, making it difficult for him to make his case in a campaign that’s mostly being waged on the airwaves with paid political advertising. The Republican is not participating in debates and mostly does not do interviews with reporters. Even in a swing district that saw a Democrat narrowly win in the 2020 election when Donald Trump also won a majority in the district, political observers believe the writing is on the wall.
  • Chergosky: “I do think it is mostly a done deal. You look at the investment that the Democratic Party is making and there’s not much investment to speak of. When you look at the 3rd Congressional District, the money talks, you look at how the parties are allocating their resources. And that tells you a lot about how the parties view this particular race here in western Wisconsin.”


John Eason
Professor, UW-Madison Department of Sociology

  • In Wisconsin’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, political attack ads for incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson are attracting notice for describing the Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes as “different and dangerous.” Barnes is Wisconsin’s first Black lieutenant governor. Johnson’s campaign has said the incumbent is talking to voters about issues important to them, including what it calls out-of-control crime.
  • Eason: “I think it’s reminiscent of the ads we’ve seen in the past from Willie Horton all the way back to the Goldwater campaign with the long black shadow and really reaching out and speaking about crime and equating Blackness with crime.”


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