Gov. Evers to reschedule special election in 7th Congressional District
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor
MADISON – Governor Tony Evers announced last Monday that a special election to fill the 7th Congressional District vacancy created by the resignation of Republican Representative Sean Duffy would be held Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, with a primary election taking place Monday, Dec. 30.
However, the U.S. Department of Justice informed Evers that the dates he chose were in violation of a federal law which requires at least 45 days for overseas absentee ballots, so Evers will reschedule the special election.
The governor is considering holding the primary on Feb. 8, 2020, when there will be a state Supreme Court primary election, and the general election on April 7, 2020, the day of the Spring Primary Election, according to his spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff.
Duffy’s resignation from Congress was effective as of 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23.
According to state law, the governor has the power to order a special election, including in the event of a congressional seat becoming vacant.
“Our rural communities have been directly affected by unproductive trade wars, political attacks on healthcare and public education, and economic uncertainty because of the volatility we’re seeing in Washington, D.C.,” said Evers in a statement from Sept. 23. “The people of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District deserve to have a voice in Congress, which is why I am calling for a special election to occur quickly to ensure the people of the 7th Congressional District have representation as soon as possible. I thank Rep. Duffy for his service and wish him and his family all the best.”
So far, three candidates have announced their bids to fill the seat, including State Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst).
“I look forward to showing the people of the 7th Congressional District why I am the best candidate to serve as their Congressman,” Tiffany said in a statement from Sept. 23. “My experience running a small business and my record of reforms and results speak volumes. The people of Northern and Western Wisconsin deserve Wisconsin-style reforms in Washington. They won’t accept the status quo and neither will I.”
Tiffany has received endorsements from former Governor Scott Walker, former Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary and State Senator Sheila Harsdorf and several State Representatives.
Menomonie native and retired Army Captain Jason Church announced his candidacy on Tuesday, Sept. 24. He will run as a Republican, making the Dec. 30 primary necessary.
“In 2012, I answered the call to serve my country and I am proudly doing so again today,” Church stated in a news release. “Wisconsin’s 7th District is made up of hardworking Americans who understand sacrifice and caring for their neighbors in need. They rallied around me when I came home from Afghanistan and it would be my honor to return the favor and fight for them in the United States Congress.”
Church, 30, was involved in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in Aug. 2012, resulting in the amputation of both legs below the knee.
Following his retirement as a Captain in 2014, Church earned his Masters of Arts in Security Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, as well as a Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School. He also serves on the board of directors for Sentinels of Freedom, a foundation to assist severely wounded post-9/11 veterans.
Recently, he worked as an outreach staffer for Senator Ron Johnson.
Church said he plans to “stand with President Trump to secure our borders, protect the most vulnerable among us, stand up for our veterans, and make sure Wisconsin’s economic recovery is protected from socialist interference.”
A third Republican, Michael Opela Sr., of Edgar, announced his candidacy Sunday, Sept. 29. Opela graduated from Mankato University and has “worn many hats,” including “President of the Student Association at Mankato, worked as a Chef, Stock Broker, Truss Designer, Structural Engineer, Marketing Manager, Project Manager, General Contractor, Business Owner and Entrepreneur,” according to his campaign’s Facebook page.
“Change will only occur with a new perspective and a paradigm shift (if you will),” Opela stated in a press release. “This will require new Congressmen of various backgrounds with different ways of getting things done. Michael P. Opela, Sr. will run for Congress so that he can LISTEN to District 7; LEARN their position on issues; and CARRY that message to Congress.”
As of press time, no other candidates had announced their intentions to run for the vacant 7th District seat.