Fernando "Fritz" Riveron, MD

By Shereen Siewert

A Wausau surgeon who mulled a run for the state’s 7th District Congressional seat vacated by former Rep. Sean Duffy tells Wausau Pilot and Review he will not seek the office.

Dr. Fernando “Fritz” Riveron, of Wausau, called receiving support and encouragement from friends and family members perhaps the greatest honor of his life.

“The opportunity to serve the community that has given me so much is a compelling call, for ‘to whom much is given, much will be required,’” Riveron said, in a written statement to Wausau Pilot and Review. “After soul-searching, prayer and consultation with friends and family, I have I have decided not to run. I hope to be able to continue my service as a doctor and surgeon both here and abroad.”

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 and stepped down 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 was 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.

In a Sept. 9 phone interview with Wausau Pilot and Review, Riveron, whose family fled Cuba in the 1960s, said his consideration stemmed in part by the mainstream acceptance of socialism by the nation’s youth and many Democrats.

“This does not diminish my conviction that we must engage in the issues of the day that demand a vigilant response from all citizens,” Riveron said. “We must continue to fight the pernicious, encroaching tyranny of Socialism. We must rail against the interests that have transformed health care into a business not a humanitarian endeavor. We must find compassionate American solutions to the tragedy of a broken immigration system. We must find distinctly American solutions to nurture and sustain our fragile environment.”

The winner of the Jan. 27 special election will serve through the end of 2020. The next election is in November 2020.

Wisconsin’s 7th District is the state’s largest congressional district geographically. State Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, announced earlier this month he would run for the seat. Also running is Jason Church, an Army veteran who lost both his legs in Afghanistan and now works for Sen. Ron Johnson.

Church on Tuesday entered the race with a statement and a video in which he describes surviving an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2012 followed by a long recovery. He retired as a U.S. Army captain.