'Win or lose, I don't care': Leader of college Republicans launches U.S. Senate bid against Baldwin
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The first Republican to announce a bid against Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin has emerged as other contenders still weigh a run.
Rejani Raveendran, a 40-year-old who chairs the UW-Stevens Point College Republicans, will officially kick off her campaign Tuesday evening at Portage County Republican Party headquarters.
Raveendran is the first GOP candidate to challenge Baldwin in 2024. The India native moved to the United States in 2011 and has never run for office before. Raveendran became a U.S. citizen in 2015 and moved to Wisconsin two years later after living in California.
Her announcement comes as Republicans have struggled to recruit a candidate to challenge Baldwin. The Democratic incumbent has been a tough opponent for the GOP after Baldwin won reelection by more than 10 points in 2018, two years after former President Donald Trump carried the state.
Raveendran admitted it will be an uphill battle running against Baldwin, even expressed how she's not running to win, but she hopes her message as an outsider will connect with voters.
"I'm not a politician. I'm not running to win," Raveendran told CBS 58. "I'm just running because of what I experience and witness how this country is being run. I do not want to sit and be a complainer when I could be able to do something."
The single mom of three children said her campaign will consist of immigration reform, border security, election integrity and "medical freedoms," a term used by conservatives that oppose vaccine mandates. Raveendran, a former nurse and midwife, said she did not get vaccinated against COVID-19 but wants to advocate for those who were "injured by the vaccine."
When asked if she believes Joe Biden defeated Trump and whether the election was legitimate, Raveendran said, "I do not think the election was fair. There was overwhelming evidence."
Raveendran claimed there were "glitches" in voting machines and "videos with briefcases filled with ballots" she called "the problem." Multiple reviews, investigation and court cases have proven there was no widespread fraud during the 2020 election.
Asked whether she voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, Raveendran said she did and will support the former president if "he's on the ballot" next year.
Other contenders mulling a run against Baldwin include Madison businessman Eric Hovde, Scott Mayer, a Franklin businessman and former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke.
The long-shot candidate said she's not concerned if others enter the race.
"Win or lose, I don't care about that, as long as I do the right thing and I stand for the right purpose for the people of Wisconsin," Raveendran said.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI-8th), the party's top choice, recently declined to go head-to-head with Baldwin. Last week, Rep. Tom Tiffany (W-7th) decided against running and instead announced he'd seek reelection.
Members of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin criticized Republicans for struggling to find candidates and mocked individuals who may enter the field.
“Congratulations to Wisconsin Republicans on officially kicking off yet another messy GOP primary that is likely to feature Sheriff David Clarke and two multi-millionaires — one from California and one who can’t be bothered to vote," said Democratic Party of Wisconsin rapid response director Arik Wolk, commenting on Hovde and Mayer.