The announcement that Representative Sean Duffy (R-WI) would pass on a challenge Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in 2018 has left the GOP without it’s presumed top choice for the race. It’s also unfrozen the field of potential contenders.
The names of at least five potential candidates have emerged in recent weeks, with four of them — state Sen. Leah Vukmir, state Rep. Dale Kooyenga, Madison businessman Eric Hovde and Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson — telling the Wisconsin State Journal on Thursday they are considering a run.
The fifth, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, didn’t respond to an interview request but tweeted praise for Duffy’s leadership. He previously said he would await Duffy’s decision before deciding whether to get in the race.
Baldwin is one of the 10 Democratic Senators up in 2018 from states President Donald Trump won in 2016.
So far on confirmation votes Baldwin has voted with the majority of her party on every nomination. Unlike similarly situated colleagues Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Jon Tester (D-MT), she has not seen the need or opportunity to provide herself with some cover from the middle or right via these votes.