Update 9:35 a.m. Feb. 16 with Duffy announcement
Wisconsin Rep. Sean P. Duffy announced Thursday he will pass on a run for Senate in 2018.
“After much prayer and deliberation, Rachel and I have decided that this is not the right time for me to run for Senate,” Duffy said in a statement released Thursday morning. “We have eight great kids and family always comes first.”
The four-term congressman had been expected to be a top contender to take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin next year.
In his statement, Duffy said he was confident Baldwin will be beat “because her radically liberal Madison record and ideas are out of synch with Wisconsin. I look forward to helping our Republican nominee defeat her.”
Besides Duffy, management consultant Kevin Nicholson, a Marine veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been considering a run for Senate. He’s said he’ll make his decision independent of anyone else’s. State Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has also been weighing a bid, but had said he wouldn’t run if Duffy entered the race. State Sen. Leah Vukmir and 2012 candidate Eric Hovde are reportedly interested as well.
National Republicans have already begun attacking Baldwin for her opposition to Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and have been trying to tie her to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. After holding on to Sen. Ron Johnson’s seat last fall, when Trump narrowly won the Badger State, Republicans are hopeful about knocking off the first-term Democrat.
The one-time “Real World” cast member represents the sprawling 7th District, a conservative seat in the northern part of the state. Duffy’s been a strong supporter of President Donald Trump and earlier this month made controversial remarks when trying to defend Trump’s refugee ban.
He argued in a CNN interview that terrorist attacks committed by white domestic terrorists are less of a threat than attacks committed by people from the Middle East. He told CNN host Alisyn Camerota that the attack on a mosque in Quebec that killed six people was “a one-off.”
He then implied that a Marxist killed former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The congresswoman survived a 2011 assassination attempt.
Wisconsin’s Senate race is rated Tilts Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.