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GOP Rep. Sean Duffy resigning on Sept. 23

Wisconsin congressman announced child his family is expecting has a heart condition

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., announced Monday he s resigning from Congress in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy announced Monday that he is resigning from Congress on Sept. 23, after news that the child his family is expecting will have a heart condition.

“Recently, we’ve learned that our baby, due in late October, will need even more love, time, and attention due to complications, including a heart condition,” Duffy wrote in a Facebook post. The child will be Duffy’s ninth. 

“With much prayer, I have decided that this is the right time for me to take a break from public service in order to be the support my wife, baby and family need right now,” Duffy wrote. “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’s seat is not expected to be competitive. President Donald Trump carried the 7th District by 20 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solidly Republican.

The expansive district in the northwest part of the state could play host to a crowded GOP primary. Under Wisconsin state law, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers issues the order for a special election to fill the vacancy.

Two Wisconsin GOP sources said state Sen. Tom Tiffany could be a potential candidate to watch. Tiffany was elected to the state Senate in 2012 after serving in the Assembly. One source said state Sen. Jerry Petrowski, is another name to watch. Petrowski also served in the Assembly before being elected to the state Senate in a 2012 special election.

Duffy, who was first elected in 2010, joined the House after eight years as a district attorney, but other parts of his resumé occasionally overshadowed his professional accomplishments. He was born the 10th of 11 children and raised in heavily wooded northern Wisconsin. Lumber is a big part of his family’s history.

Duffy followed in that tradition by competing in — and winning — numerous lumberjack competitions. The money he earned from such events helped pay his way through college and law school. His oldest children — he has eight — are involved in logrolling contests, and he keeps a 6-pound Australian ax in his Washington office.

He was in law school when he was selected as a cast member for “The Real World,” the pioneering reality show on MTV. Several years later, he returned to the network on “Road Rules.” It was on that show where he met Rachel Campos, now his wife. When he finally settled into a legal career, Duffy was a county prosecutor; he was appointed to the district attorney post, and then won reelection several times.

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

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