The Real World: Wisconsin

Rep. Sean Duffy may be taking a second look at a Senate bid.

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., and Rachel Duffy speak during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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Josh Kraushaar
Sept. 29, 2017, 8:02 a.m.

We’re hearing rumblings that Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy is reconsidering a Senate campaign in Wisconsin, a move that would greatly bolster the GOP’s prospects against freshman Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Hotline has learned that Duffy raised a whopping $550,000 in the third quarter, and has over $2 million banked. These are totals consistent with someone with higher ambitions.

Asked about the congressman’s future intentions, Duffy spokesman Mark Bednar didn’t rule out a Senate bid: “Congressman Duffy has support from all over Wisconsin, and he’s well prepared for whatever is on the horizon.”

If Duffy decides to jump in, he’d become one of the GOP’s top Senate recruits in a cycle where Republicans have struggled to land top challengers. He would likely start as a primary front-runner and get a turnout boost next November from Gov. Scott Walker, who will be heading the GOP’s state ticket. What would make Duffy strong is his ability to transcend the intraparty divide. He won a rural district that Democrats held for decades, and can win over blue-collar swing voters while also generating excitement from the traditional Republican base in the Milwaukee suburbs.

It’s not unusual for candidates to change their minds about running. NRSC Chair Cory Gardner famously professed disinterest in Colorado until jumping in right before the 2014 filing deadline. Duffy could follow a similar playbook—and put Wisconsin on the map yet again for a big election.

— Josh Kraushaar


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