WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Wisconsin Representative Sean Duffy (R-Weston) has announced he's stepping away from Congress, according to an announcement posted Monday morning on his Facebook page.
Recently, we’ve learned that our baby, due in late October, will need even more love, time, and attention due to complications, including a heart condition. With much prayer, I have decided that this is the right time for me to take a break from public service in order to be the support my wife, baby and family need right now. It is not an easy decision – because I truly love being your Congressman – but it is the right decision for my family, which is my first love and responsibility.
First elected in 2010 to represent the 7th Congressional District, Duffy has won re-election three times in an area that consistently and solidly votes red, beating his last three Democratic opponents by at least 20 percentage points each time. Duffy was the former Ashland County District Attorney at the time of his election, and replaced longtime congressman, Dave Obey. Since Duffy's resignation, the Cook Political Report has shifted Congressional District 7 from Solid Republican to Likely Republican.
Duffy's resignation was announced less than an hour after the campaign rolled out a new campaign website Monday morning. State senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) released a statement minutes after Duffy's announcement, followed by a second statement later that morning saying he was receiving numerous questions about his next step in the wake of Duffy's announcement. “I plan to talk to my wife Chris and my daughters, and my future plans will be announced soon," he wrote. He told NewsChannel 7 he is indeed considering a run for the seat, but out of respect to the Duffys isn't discussing it further at this time.
State law puts Governor Tony Evers in charge of ordering a special election to fill the seat which Duffy will vacate September 23; his office tells NewsChannel 7 they are reviewing statutes to determine when to set the election.
Reid Magney with the Wisconsin Elections Commission tells NewsChannel 7 that state law doesn't dictate when the governor has to order the election, but that once it is ordered, it must be held between 92 and 122 days from that order.
"There’s a wide number of scenarios when the special election could be held--sooner when elections are not scheduled, or whether they can be held in conjunction with our spring primary on February 18 and the spring election on April 7," Magney noted. "Or it could be held after that—it’s really up to the governor."
Lawmakers, political groups and even President Donald Trump have weighed in throughout the day on Duffy's resignation. Trump quoted a Georgia representative on Twitter, saying he "100% agreed" that Duffy had made Wisconsin proud. Duffy himself tweeted Monday afternoon that while he appreciates the kind messages, "I'm not dead"--and that he's looking forward to what the future holds.
The Wisconsin GOP released the following statement:
“For the past eight years, Sean Duffy has served the people of Wisconsin’s seventh congressional district with dedication, honor, and an interminable love for our State and its people. Sean has always been a great friend of the Party and an exceptional proponent of our conservative ideals. We are extremely grateful for his years of service and friendship. I, along with everyone at the Republican Party of Wisconsin, will be keeping Sean, Rachel, and the rest of the Duffy family in our thoughts and prayers as they make this difficult transition and prepare for the arrival of the newest member of their family.”
Republican senator Ron Johnson said, “We are all saddened by the news that Sean and Rachel Duffy’s soon-to-be-born baby girl will experience significant health challenges. Family responsibilities should always come first, and I fully understand and respect Sean’s decision to devote his full time and attention to his family. I ask everyone to keep Sean and his family in your prayers.”