Duffy stepping down from congress

(First published in the August 29, 2019 issue of City Pages)

Sean Duffy of Wausau to resign next month from 7th District Congressional seat, citing family health issues


U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, at an election night party in 2016 in Wausau.

Congressman Sean Duffy announced on Monday that he will step down from his U.S. House of Representatives seat. Duffy (R–Wausau), who served for eight and a half years in the House representing Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, says he is resigning after learning that his ninth child, due in October, will have complications including a heart condition and will need “more love, time and attention.” Both Duffy and his wife, Rachel Campos-Duffy, are 47.

Duffy will resign on Sept. 23, according to his announcement. His outreach director, Sara Guild, also announced Monday she is resigning from the job to become executive director for the Wisconsin Auto and Truck Education Association’s Wheels to Work program. She has worked for Duffy in that role for the past two and a half years.

Duffy was first elected in 2010, to the seat long occupied by Democrat Dave Obey of Wausau. Duffy appeared to be on an undefeatable track, winning four elections since then by wide margins.

But Duffy said on Facebook that he decided to put family first. “It is not an easy decision — because I truly love being your Congressman — but it is the right decision for my family, which is my first love and responsibility.”

Duffy would have been up for re-election in November 2020 for the next two-year term. Under state rules, Gov. Tony Evers will call a special election to fill the seat when it becomes officially vacant. The district covers most of northern Wisconsin.

A request for an interview sent to Guild before she resigned was referred to Duffy’s communications director. That email came back undeliverable. In an exclusive national interview with the Fox and Friends TV show, Duffy said his daughter has a hole in her heart and will need surgery after being born. Rachel Campos-Duffy told Fox and Friends in the same interview that it wasn’t the only reason, but was “an indication that the bandwidth is getting really tight. At some point, you have to put your family first.”

Duffy is the tenth Republican member of Congress this year to announce they would not seek re-election, according to a tally by CNN. Nine of those ten announced their intentions this summer.

State Sen. Jerry Petrowski of Stettin said in a statement that he is considering a run for the House seat, after many constituents asked him to. “This is not a decision to take lightly, and I will be discussing options with my family over the next couple of weeks.”