Menomonie native Deb Baldus McGrath is hoping to represent Wisconsin in Washington DC
Menomonie native and current resident Deb McGrath hopes to follow in her father's footsteps. Her father, the late Al Baldus, was a U.S. Congressman representing Wisconsin's 3rd District, serving three 2-year terms from 1975-1981.
McGrath is running as a Democrat in the August primary against Rebecca Cooke, Mark Neumann, and Brad Pfaff. The winner will face Republican Derrick Van Orden in the midterm election on November 8, 2022. Since 1996 the 3rd District has been represented by Democrat Ron Kind, who is retiring at the end of his current term.
McGrath was born in Menomonie, the oldest of six children, and attended grade school (River Heights and East) and junior high in Menomonie. Her dad farmed and sold insurance before starting his political career and her mom Lolly was an instructor of Home Economics at UW Stout. After her dad was elected to Congress, the family moved to Washington DC and returned to Menomonie during summer breaks.
"I feel fortunate to have grown up in Menomonie. My happiest memories are biking around town, spending time at Wakanda Park, swimming in Lake Menomin, and going to the root beer stand," said McGrath. "I know from spending time in other parts of the world that not everyone is so lucky to have that idyllic feeling of home."
From a young age, McGrath had a desire to serve her country. Her father served in the U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II and the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. As a result, he encouraged her to join the military after high school. McGrath followed his advice and was commissioned in the U.S. Army through ROTC in 1983.
McGrath had an impressive military career serving in the Adjutant General Corps, where she earned Parachutist wings, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal. As an Army Captain, she volunteered to serve in the 2nd Infantry Division in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
After 9/11, McGrath was recruited to work undercover in the CIA. She served in our nation's war zones and hostile areas and, upon retirement, earned the CIA's Career Commendation Medal for leadership.
After serving over 25 years in the Army, State Department, and CIA, McGrath and her husband Kevin, a retired Army Colonel, returned home to Menomonie. The couple bought a house in Menomonie after 9/11 and have called Menomonie home ever since.
"I've served my country and will always choose my country over politics. I see today's political instability, and I want to bring a sense of calm to Congress," said McGrath. "I want to solve problems by working across the aisle to get things done."
One cause that is especially important to McGrath is access to affordable healthcare. Her brother, Erik, was diagnosed with lymphoma at age three and passed away at age 6. Another brother, Dan, was born with spina bifida.
"Growing up with siblings who had major medical issues defined my life. I think it defines many families' lives today," said McGrath. "My family did everything we could to help my brothers get what they needed. Access to affordable healthcare, including mental health care, is something everyone deserves."
Al Baldus, who also served in the state assembly, had a reputation as a committed public servant with a strong sense of justice and fairness who was able to work on issues with both political parties. He had a front door policy, where people could drop by at all hours of the day to ask questions or talk, and he was always willing to listen.
"My dad was such a great role model of service for me. He was a fighter. He loved Wisconsin - the land and the people - and I do too. He treated everyone fairly, and every opinion mattered to him," said McGrath. "I'm eager for a chance to follow in his footsteps and represent the 3rd District in Washington."