Two U.S. Congressional seats have recently opened up in Wisconsin that could change the Wisconsin political landscape at both the federal and state level in the next few years. U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Weston) announced he is resigning from the 7th Congressional District on Sept. 23. U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) announced he will not seek reelection to the 5th Congressional District in 2020.
Many potential candidates are surveying their options, including several current and former state legislators. If state legislators like Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) in the 7th and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) or Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) in the 5th were to win, it could create a domino effect of special elections – first for their Senate districts, then for the vacant Assembly seats if state reps move to fill the Senate seats.
Below is an overview of candidates considering running in both the 5th and 7th congressional districts so far.
In the 5th Congressional District, potential candidates include state Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), and state Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Waukesha). Kevin Nicholson, who ran in the 2018 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, is also considering jumping in the race. Other potential candidates include Matt Neuman, son of former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann; Matt Walker, son of former Gov. Scott Walker; and Ben Voelkel, an aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh).
Former state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) and her successor in state Senate District 5 Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) were both considering but announced this week they will not run for the congressional seat. Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow has also declined a run.
On the Democratic side, Tom Palzewicz, who lost to Sensenbrenner in 2018, plans to run again. Sensenbrenner has held the seat since 1978, and the district is likely to remain Republican.
In the 7th Congressional District, state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) formally announced his candidacy on Sept. 11 with a series of stops throughout the district. Other potential candidates in the Republican primary are Mosinee Mayor Brent Jacobson; Fritz Riveron, a thoracic surgeon from Wausau; and Jason Church, northwest region director for U.S. Sen. Johnson.
State Sen. Jerry Petrowkski (R-Marathon) and Rep. Romaine Quinn (R-Rice Lake) both announced this week they are declining to run for the seat. Republican strategist and former executive at Americans for Prosperity Luke Hilgemann has also decided against a run.
On the Democratic side, potential candidates from the Legislature include state Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Mason), state Rep. Nick Milroy (D-South Range), and former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow. Kreitlow lost to Duffy in the 2012 election. Christine Bremer Muggli, an attorney from Wausau, is also considering running.
Duffy has held the seat since 2011, and the district is likely to remain Republican. Gov. Tony Evers has not yet announced when he will call the special election to replace Duffy.