U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan isn’t giving Democrats strong odds for retaking fellow congressman Sean Duffy’s soon-to-be vacant seat.
Pocan, D-Black Earth, said Wednesday that anything is possible, “but probable and possible might be two different things,” noting the northern Wisconsin district is solidly Republican.
Pocan spoke with members of the press after a discussion with members of Wisconsin Rotary Club at Park Hotel.
Citing family reasons, Duffy, R-Weston, who has served in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District for more than eight years, earlier this week announced he would resign Sept. 23.
Duffy posted on Facebook that he and his wife had learned their baby, who is expected to be born in October, “will need even more love, time, and attention due to complications, including a heart condition.”
Duffy, 47, was elected in 2011 following the retirement of Democratic U.S. Rep. David Obey. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report estimated the district has voted 8 percentage points more Republican than the national average.
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With Duffy’s term expiring in 2021, Gov. Tony Evers will have to call a special election to fill the seat. The election must occur within 92 to 122 days of the governor’s order for an election. Depending on when that call is made, a general election could occur on April 7, 2020, to coincide with the presidential preference primary and state Supreme Court election.
While still a challenging seat for a Democratic candidate to win, Pocan said aligning the election with the primary could provide an advantage.
“That could be different because more Democrats will probably vote in that April race because we have a competitive primary,” he said. “Republicans may have a primary, but I doubt it will be competitive by that time.”
While a handful of potential candidates have said they’re considering a run for the 7th District seat, no official announcements have been made.
Pocan said he anticipates making an endorsement after candidates announce.
“Whenever it’s an open seat, it’s kind of open turf for us,” he said.