Monday, August 26, 2019

Duffy resigns! So what's the next step?

Just a dull, rainy August Monday morning. And then this came along.

WHAT? This was one of those reports that seemed to come from nowhere. But within an hour, it ended up being true.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, who has served his northern Wisconsin district for more than 8 years, has announced he will resign.

The Wausau Republican said he intends to step down from his post Sept. 23 due to complications with his baby due in late October.

"After eight and a half years, the time has come for me to focus more on the reason we fight these battles – family," Duffy said in a post on social media. "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. 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."
My reaction to the sudden timing of it was twofold.

1. When did Sean and Rachel from Reality TV find out their kid had a heart issue? I ask this because here’s Dimwitted Duffy yukking it up on a Fox program last night.

Just today, Duffy was talking about a new, updated campaign website.

"For Wisconsin", and not the Northwoods? Hmmm...

And his wife was still hosting her "View from Faux News" show as of last Friday.

I seriously doubt the Duffys just found out about this kid’s heart issue today. I know this couple isn’t exactly well-adjusted, but it would be beyond bizarre to hear such awful news and say “We’re out of Congress and changing our lives” within a couple of hours. Someone needs to follow up on when they found out about the baby’s health issue.

2. Given my skepticism about the situation, I also wanted to find out if the timing of Duffy’s announcement was set up so that the vacancy might be filled during the April 2020 election. Given that the presidential primaries will happen on the same day, having a second, higher-profile election in a GOP-leaning area would likely help WisGOP candidate Daniel Kelly in April’s Supreme Court race. And WisGOP would not be beyond this type of trickery.

So I went to the Wisconsin statutes to see what it says about filling vacancies in Congress.
If a special election is held concurrently with the general election or a special election is held to fill a national office, the special election may be ordered not earlier than 122 days prior to the partisan primary or special primary, respectively, and not later than 92 days prior to that primary.
Then the general election to fill the seat would be 4 weeks after that primary.

If Evers wanted it to happen sooner, he theoretically could call the primary election today, have it happen by Thanksgiving and the general election to happen around Christmas. But Holiday weeks seem like a bad time to have an election, and Congress is usually on recess between mid-December and January, so the vacancy wouldn’t be as big a deal if it wasn’t filled during that time.

On the other side, quick math indicates that 150 days (122+28) after September 23 would be February 20. If Evers wanted to save money for communities in that largely rural district, he could wait till late September, then schedule the special election for the same time as the Spring primary on February 19. But that would mean the Northwoods wouldn’t be represented for 5 months, so perhaps an election schedule that falls between those two extremes (like December 10 primary and January 7 general election?) is the best option.

Now we get to see who steps into the 7th district race to hold the seat for at least the next year. This district was gerrymandered after 2010 to try to keep Duffy in office. Between that and the way that older, whiter and lower-educated districts have become more Trumpy in the 2010s, it was greatly successful in turning this into a pro-Republican district.

Doesn’t mean it’s not winnable for Dems – Patty Schachtner won the 10th State Senate district’s seat in a special election in Winter 2018, which lies in much of the western part of WI-7. But it would be a big story if GOPs lost this seat ahead of the 2020 elections, and would make national headlines given Wisconsin’s swing-state status for the presidential election.

It’s also worth mentioning that this area has lost the most people of any district in the state, so when redistricting happens after 2020, you can expect it to either get Dem cities like Eau Claire and/or Stevens Point, or look a lot different geographically than it does now. I’d wonder if that played into Duffy’s decision, as he can avoid a more difficult district in 2022 (if he’s not running statewide), and can pull the Paul Ryan “cash in and lay low” strategy for a couple of years.

I will give my thoughts and prayers to the Duffy family as they deal with the apparently difficult circumstances with their 9th (!) child, but I also expect these lifetime grifters to find themselves cashing in with some right-wing group sooner than later. I find the timing of Duffy’s announcement doubly intriguing given last week’s death of David Koch and Rachel Campos-Duffy’s gig as the spokeswoman for the Kochs’ LIBRE Initiative.

Add that in to the fact that Sean Duffy seemed to spend more time in 2019 campaigning for a job in TrumpWorld than actually giving a damn about the 715, and I’m going with Koch/Fox money as his likely next step. His surprise resignation doesn't add up, otherwise.


  1. Jesus Christ, Jake. Nice piece.

  2. It is sad to see rural Wisconsinites prop up such demonstrably shallow and superficial creatures like Sean and Rachel Duffy, and incoherent buffoons like Glenn Grothmann.