State News

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy announces he will not run against Baldwin for U.S. Senate

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, seen as a front-runner in Wisconsin’s 2018 senate election, said Thursday that he would not be running. Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s opponent is now up in the air.

Republican U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., announced Thursday that he will not run against U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin for her senate seat in 2018.

“After much prayer and deliberation, Rachel and I have decided that this is not the right time for me to run for Senate," Duffy said in a statement. "We have eight great kids and family always comes first."

Duffy, a four-term congressman and an early supporter of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, was assumed to be the top contender to take on Baldwin, the Democratic incumbent. Duffy did say, however, that he will do whatever he can to support the Republican nominee.

“I’m excited about the great things we will accomplish with our united Republican government,” Duffy said.

Other potential candidates include state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Madison businessman Eric Hovde, state Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, state Sen. Leah Vukmir ,R-Brookfield, and Milwaukee-area businessman Kevin Nicholson.

Fitzgerald, another early Trump supporter, has yet to confirm whether he will run for Senate but offered praise in a tweet for Duffy after the announcement.

Hovde has expressed interest in running as well and has the funds to self-support a campaign.

"He [Duffy]'s a good man. I am sure he made the decision based upon all the factors in the race and what's best for his family,” Hovde said.

Kooygena and Vukmir are both popular conservative legislators. Kooyenga, a veteran of the Iraq War, said he will decide whether or not to run once the the budget has been signed.

Vukmir, a registered nurse and a board member of a council that promotes state conservative laws across the country, has express strong interest in running.

If Vukmir runs for U.S. Senate, however, she would have to give up her seat in the state Senate.

Nicholson is less familiar to the Wisconsin population but argues that his outside perspective would help him represent Wisconsin families.

“Here in Wisconsin, we've had years and years of career politicians like Tammy Baldwin. I'm an outsider and I know firsthand the challenges facing Wisconsin families, and the sacrifices made by those who help keep us safe," Nicholson said.

Since Sen. Ron Johnson was reelected last fall, Republicans seem optimistic that they can retake Baldwin’s seat.

"After 20 years of talk in Washington, it's not clear what she's done but protect the Washington status quo and reject real reform for Wisconsin's working families,” Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesman Alec Zimmerman, said.

State Democrats responded by promising that Baldwin will continue to stand up for “a Wisconsin economy that works for everyone,” despite these challenges. 

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