Wisconsin Public Radio

GOP Congressman Sean Duffy Resigning

Northern Wisconsin Republican wants to focus on his growing family.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Aug 26th, 2019 01:15 pm
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Sean Duffy. Photo from the US Government.

Sean Duffy. Photo from the US Government.

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy announced his resignation in a Facebook post Monday morning.

The congressman — who represents Wisconsin’s 7th District — was first elected in November 2010, and won his fifth Congressional term in November.

In his post, Duffy wrote after serving for eight and a half years, he was stepping down to focus on his family.

“Being away from home in Washington four days a week is challenging and for that reason, I have always been open to signs from God when it comes to balancing my desire to serve both my family and my country,” he wrote.

Duffy and his wife, Fox News commentator Rachel Campos Duffy, are expecting their ninth child in October. Duffy said the child has been diagnosed with “complications, including a heart condition.”

He said aside from marrying his wife, representing Wisconsin has been the “highest honor” of his life.

“Representing you — the people and families of Wisconsin’s 7th District — in Congress has been the highest honor of my life. Together, we have engaged in the most important battles of our time: protecting freedom of speech and religious liberty, taking care of our veterans, defending the unborn, and saving American jobs and American capitalism,” he wrote.

The 7th District is the states’s largest congressional district covering 20 counties in northwestern and central Wisconsin.Duffy will step down Monday, Sept. 23.

The 7th Congressional District was held for more than four decades by Democratic Rep. Dave Obey. Duffy won election in 2010 after Obey announced his retirement. In the years since Duffy’s election, the mostly rural, Northwoods district became one of Wisconsin’s most reliably Republican-voting districts. The district’s boundaries were redrawn by GOP legislators in 2011, removing Democratic stronghold Stevens Point and several other cities from the 7th Congressional District.

In a statement, state Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, said Duffy had been a “tireless advocate” for northern Wisconsin.

Former Gov. Scott Walker on Twitter wrote, “Our prayers go out to (the Duffys), their unborn baby and the rest of their family. Thanks for putting family first!”

In a statement, Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt praised Duffy’s service and called him “an exceptional proponent of conservative ideals.”

Gov. Tony Evers Will Call Special Election

The governor’s office confirmed Monday morning Gov. Tony Evers will call for a special election to fill the 7th District seat. The governor’s office is still researching what requirements are written into state law regarding special elections, including the timeline for calling and holding them.

The confirmation comes as conversations swirl about the possibility of the special election falling on the date of Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary: April 7, 2020. A state Supreme Court seat is also on the ballot that day.

Because liberal voters are expected to turn out in high numbers for their party’s presidential primary, some believe liberal candidates in other races on the ballot may have an advantage.

According to an analysis by WisContext, Wisconsin has only held three special elections for the U.S. House of Representatives since 1971. Special elections for vacated seats in the state Legislature are more common.

Democrats Eye Seat For Potential Flip

Republican Duffy has held the 7th District seat since 2011, but Democrats are eyeing the district as a potential gain for Democrats in Congress.

Though President Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by more than 20 percentage points there in 2016, they point to a smaller, 3 point margin in the race between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 as proof there is a chance Democrats could prevail.

However, insiders also point out redistricting in 2011 made the 7th District more conservative. They also argue rural areas in central and northern Wisconsin are trending conservative in recent years.

In 2018, Duffy won re-election with more than 60 percent of the vote, compared to 39 percent for his Democratic challenger, Polk County attorney Margaret Engebretson. Duffy won 62 percent of the vote in 2016, 59 percent in 2014, 56 percent in 2012 and 52 percent in 2010.

A spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

GOP Congressman Sean Duffy To Resign From Office was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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