Rep. Sean Duffy’s last day—special election date set

    US Rep Sean Duffy official portrait
    U.S. Rep Sean Duffy

    Gov. Tony Evers announced he will order a special election to fill the seat in the 7th Congressional District left open as Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) officially steps down at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept 23.

    The governor issued an executive order setting the election date for Jan. 27, 2020. The primary election, if there is one, will be on Dec. 30, 2019.

    “Our rural communities have been directly affected by unproductive trade wars, political attacks on healthcare and public education, and economic uncertainty because of the volatility we’re seeing in Washington, D.C.,” Evers said in a statement announcing the election. “The people of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District deserve to have a voice in Congress, which is why I am calling for a special election to occur quickly to ensure the people of the 7th Congressional District have representation as soon as possible. I thank Rep. Duffy for his service and wish him and his family all the best.”

    The January election date is not ideal, according to at least one Democrat, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Black Earth).

    “If you have a primary or a general around Christmas … you get terrible turnout because real people don’t think about primary elections, they think about the holidays,” Pocan said in a conversation with reporters on Sept. 4, during which he was asked what would be the best election date in the 7th district for Democrats. 

    The best way to schedule the election, he said, was to “piggyback” the dates on already-scheduled elections, with a primary in February and a general election in April. “You don’t want to add elections,” Pocan said. “We like elections; most people don’t.”

    “If you start putting a bunch of elections, especially at Christmas time or in other months, you’re not going to get turnout and that doesn’t benefit anyone,” Pocan added. “You should want as many people as possible to participate.”

    Pocan made headlines earlier in the year when he suggested it was unlikely that a Democrat would win Duffy’s seat. In the Sept. 4 conversation with reporters he elaborated: “I’m not saying it’s impossible.” President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have been sinking in Wisconsin, Pocan noted, and that could be a factor.

    Tom Tiffany, the first Republican candidate to declare he is running for the seat, is an outspoken Trump supporter. No Democrat has announced yet.

    “It’s a gerrymandered district,” Pocan said. “If they have a big primary and everyone wants to be to the right of the next person on the right, eventually you fall off the ledge. That could affect the race. It depends who the Democratic nominee is — are they someone who can have some name ID, raise some money, do what you need to do? And then It depends when the election is, as we’re watching Trump kind of going downhill.”

    Ruth Conniff
    Ruth Conniff is Editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She formerly served as Editor-in-chief of The Progressive Magazine, and opened the Progressive’s office in Washington, DC, during the Clinton Administration, where she made her debut as a political pundit on CNN’s Capital Gang Sunday and Fox News. She moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, for a year in 2017, where she covered U.S./Mexico relations, the migrant caravan, and Mexico’s efforts to grapple with Donald Trump. Conniff is a frequent guest on All in with Chris Hayes on MSNBC and has appeared on Good Morning America, Democracy Now!, Wisconsin Public Radio, and other radio and television programs. In 2011, she did award-winning coverage of the uprising against Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. She has also written for The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Conniff graduated from Yale University in 1990, where she ran track and edited the campus magazine The New Journal.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Goodbye and good riddance Sean. You’ve been nothing but a cheerleader for everything Trump has done and a co-conspirator in his treasonous and criminal activity.

      Democrats have to turn out in large numbers to overcome this gerrymandered district and to prevent an anti-environment individual like Toxic Tom Tiffany from using this seat to destroy our forests and rivers.

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