Ex-Rep. Duffy rejects Trump entreaties, won’t run for Wisconsin governor

Greg Nash

Former Rep. Sean Duffy (R) on Thursday formally quashed any speculation that he might challenge Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) in 2022, rejecting encouragement from former President Trump that he come out of political retirement.

Speaking to conservative radio host Jay Weber, Duffy said he might run for office in the future, but that now was not the right time.

“Hopefully I’m not riding off into the sunset,” Duffy said Thursday on 1130 WISN, a talk radio station. “I’m just running into the sunset right now. If an opportunity presents itself, I’d like to come back and partake in Wisconsin politics.”

Duffy chose Jan. 6, the one-year anniversary of the insurrection against the U.S. Capitol by legions of violent rioters inspired by Trump’s denialism about the results of the 2020 elections, to bow out of the race.

His exit is a boon to former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, the first major Republican to enter the race against Evers. Kleefisch on Wednesday launched her first advertisement of the contest, an advertisement spotlighting school closures in Milwaukee and Madison in the face of growing coronavirus case numbers.

Kleefisch may not have a clean run at the Republican nomination: Businessman Kevin Nicholson (R), who ran for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018, is considering entering the race and has run advertisements in recent months that appear to be the first forays into a statewide campaign.

Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) defeated former Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Kleefisch by about 1 percentage point, or just under 30,000 votes, in 2018. The incumbent is expected to face a tough battle for reelection in a state that has emerged as a key battleground in recent years; President Biden carried the state’s electoral votes by just 20,000 votes, or about six-tenths of a percentage point, in 2020.

No governor has won election by more than a 10-point margin in Wisconsin since Tommy Thompson won his final term in 1998.

Duffy, who won five terms in Congress, resigned in 2019 to take care of a child born with serious medical conditions.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Sean Duffy Tony Evers Wisconsin

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