Evers Sets New 7th Congressional District Special Election Date

5 Candidates Have Declared They'll Seek To Represent Northern Wisconsin District

Voters on Election Day
Rogelio V. Solis/AP Photo  

A planned special election in the 7th Congressional District will be pushed back to Tuesday, May 12.

Gov. Tony Evers in a release Friday announced the rescheduled dates for the election. The primary will take place Tuesday, Feb. 18 followed by the general election Tuesday, May 12.

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A conflict between state and federal election laws required the governor to change the dates for both the primary and general elections after he initially set the dates for a Monday, Dec. 30 primary and a Monday, Jan. 27 general election.

The new timeline allows candidates more time to campaign, but it also means they’ll be competing for attention with Democratic presidential contenders and state Supreme Court candidates in the spring election.

Days after Evers set the initial special election dates, state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, asked the governor to reschedule because the primary would fall on the final day of Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday, Monday, Dec. 30.

The Wisconsin Republican Party has been putting pressure on Evers to declare the election dates. In a Twitter post Friday, its official account asked whether Evers would “break his campaign promises to benefit his political friends and suppress rural voters.”

Evers in a statement Friday said the new dates are based on federal law, portions of state law not pre-empted by federal law and on consultations with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, Wisconsin Department of Justice, and U.S. Department of Justice.

“The people of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District deserve to have a voice in Congress,” Evers said.

Evers paired the announcement with a call for changes to Wisconsin law.

“I am calling on the Legislature to finish the job of bringing Wisconsin’s special election law into compliance with federal law,” he said. “I am also calling on Speaker Vos to quickly move to pass bipartisan legislation that would reimburse localities for certain costs associated with special elections.”

The state Senate on Tuesday, Oct. 8 passed a bill that would reimburse local clerks for the cost of special elections.

The election will determine the successor to U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, who resigned in September amid complications in his wife’s pregnancy.

Three Republicans and two Democrats have announced their candidacies. The Republicans are state Sen. Tom Tiffany of Minocqua; Jason Church, an Afghanistan war veteran and purple heart recipient from Hudson who is an aide to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson; and Michael Opela of Edgar. The Democrats are Wausau School Board president Tricia Zunker and Lawrence Dale of Michigan.