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.”