By Shereen Siewert
Dr. Fernando “Fritz” Riveron, a Cuban-born Wausau thoracic surgeon, is considering a run for Congress, Wausau Pilot and Review has learned.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, the Republican who has served the state’s 7th Congressional District since 2011, announced his resignation in a post Aug. 26 on his Facebook page, stating that he will resign on Sept. 23. Duffy disclosed in his post that he recently learned that his ninth child, due in October, has a heart condition and “will need even more love, time, and attention due to complications.”
Riveron, a Republican who spent more than two decades leading the cardiac surgery program at Aspirus, said he has been approached by many people to run for Duffy’s seat, which covers 20 counties in northern Wisconsin. The seat was held by Democrat Dave Obey from 1969 to 2011.
“I am a doctor, not a politician and as such I believe that I can offer the people of Wisconsin precisely the representation that is needed during these critical times,” Riveron said. “Our founding fathers never intended the house of representatives to become the purview of career politicians and bureaucrats whose tenure averages more than 20 years. It was meant to be a body of citizen representatives; accomplished men and women who would serve for the public good and return to their previous lives. A Representative cannot be out of touch with the struggles of daily life.”
Riveron, whose family fled Cuba in the early 1960s, said his political views have been shaped in part by his range of experiences, both in Cuba and in the U.S. He has never run for office and describes himself as a citizen who loves politics.
“I have been deeply troubled by a national dialogue on healthcare by people who don’t understand it at the ground level,” Riveron said. “Bureaucrats cannot understand the struggle of individuals and families forced to make heart- wrenching decisions with rising costs and worsening access to care. I have lived it for over 30 years one patient and one family at a time. A discussion of Medicare for all, or a government takeover in Single Payer is an abominable distortion that we must fight with every fiber of our beings. It will destroy the doctor patient relationship, escalate cost and dismantle the greatest medical system in the world. We must curb the cost of Medical care and improve access with market- driven practical solutions.
Riveron tells Wausau Pilot and Review he is deeply troubled by the mainstream acceptance of socialism by the nation’s youth and many Democrats.
“I am a Cuban-American who managed to escape the oppression of Castro’s island prison coming to this country as a five year old refugee,” Riveron said. “My family and I know firsthand the horrors of totalitarianism and communism which is often painted as more socially acceptable “socialism”. At its core Socialism is tyranny and corrupt cronyism that enslaves populations, crushes the human spirit and abrogates individual liberty. Socialism is a great and unacceptable evil that we must fight.”
As an immigrant, Riveron said, he is “appalled by a political process that refuses to solve the immigration problem our country faces.
“Both sides use this as a wedge issue and put our country’s stability and security at risk,” Riveron said. “There is a humanitarian crisis on the border and we have unacceptably poor border security. My family and friends have lived this personally. There are common sense solutions that are being ignored for political expediency perpetuating pain and suffering.”
Riveron said he seeks to harness the energy of the next generation, leading on issues they care about most.
“We Republicans need to lead on environmental issues,” Riveron said. “We are the stewards of God’s glorious creation and need to preserve and nurture it with sustainable, market-driven, job-creating solutions.”
Riveron describes the ‘Green New Deal’ as a fraud, a “thinly veiled government takeover of our energy sector” that would lead to inefficiency, bankrupting the U.S. economy.
“My life has been blessed by the opportunity and bounty of this great country. The American dream has been a reality for me and I deeply care that it be preserved for the next generation. I am prayerfully considering this daunting challenge and the opportunity to serve this community that has done so much for me and my family.”
Riveron received his medical degree from Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University and has been in practice for more than 20 years.