New Dates Set for 7th CD Special Election

On Oct. 18, Gov. Tony Evers announced revised dates for the special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Weston) in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District. Duffy resigned on Sept. 23.

The new special election will be held on May 12, 2020, with a primary on Feb. 18, 2020, the same day as the statewide spring primary. The governor’s office told Wispolitics that, in addition to avoiding violating federal election laws, the May 12 date would avoid having to hold another special election for a state Senate or Assembly seat if a state lawmaker won the 7th CD.

The new date also avoids setting the special election on the same date as the statewide spring general, where voters will decide both the state Supreme Court race and Wisconsin’s presidential primary. Setting the special election on the same day as the spring general could have influenced Republican vs. Democratic turnout.

Gov. Evers had originally set the special election for Jan. 27, 2020 with a primary on Dec. 30, 2019, but these dates faced legal complications with both federal and state law. (Read more.)

Nomination papers for the special election will be due on Dec. 2, 2019. So far Republican candidates are state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst); Jason Church, northwest region director for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson; and Michael Opela Sr., a business owner and entrepreneur from the area. On the Democratic side, businessman and veteran Lawrence Dale and Wausau School Board president and attorney Tricia Zunker have both announced runs.

Along with revising the special election dates, Gov. Evers expressed his support for special election reforms, including SB 71. SB 71, which requires the Wisconsin Elections Commission to reimburse counties and municipalities for special election costs, passed the Senate unanimously on Oct. 8. The governor also called for bringing Wisconsin special election law into compliance with federal law.