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Freshman Congressman Mike Gallagher Faces First Re-Election Bid

Republican Facing Off Against Democrat Beau Liegeois For Wisconsin's 8th District

U.S. Capitol building
Ania Mandrek (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Northeast Wisconsin’s freshman congressman is running for re-election.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is being challenged by Beau Liegeois, a Democrat who is an assistant district attorney in Brown County.

For the last 10 years Liegeois has been an assistant district attorney for Brown County. Before that he was a judge advocate for the Wisconsin National Guard.

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Liegeois said voters in northeastern Wisconsin are concerned about the basics.

“From drinking water issues in the Door Peninsula to the Fox River cleanup and water quality in the bay of Green Bay to a mine proposal on the Michigan side of the Menominee River that’s going to be dumping sulfuric acid into the Menominee River that actually should be a banned practice altogether,” referencing the Back Forty mine in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

He has criticized his opponent for accepting $300,000 in donations from PACs and corporations and said he is running his campaign via private donations.

Liegeois also acknowledged his name is hard to pronounce, and said, “It’s Walloon Belgian, it’s pronounced Lee-Joyce.”

Liegeois is facing Gallagher who was first elected in 2016. Gallagher has supported much of President Donald Trump’s agenda but has broken from him on issues related to tariffs on dairy products, steel and aluminum.

He also objects to the president’s social media habits.

“Twitter is making everybody in politics stupid,” Gallagher said. “I recognize it is a necessary evil but I think we should all try to conduct ourselves with a little bit more restraint on Twitter.”

Gallagher also described himself as a “big Russia hawk,” adding “I don’t think Russia shares our interest.”

The incumbent said the Trump administration has taken a “strong” stance on some aspects of Russian relations including in the Ukraine and Montenegro.

As for the “blue wave” Gov. Scott Walker has warned of, it’s is a fate yet to be determined for incumbents such as Gallagher, according to University of Wisconsin-Green Bay political scientist David Helpap.

Helpap said base Republican voters are all in for both Walker and Trump.

“For individuals who lean Republican, Independents, the support for the governor and certainly the president is much less than it has been in the past,” he said. “Does this mean they switch over and vote for Democrats or do they just stay home?”

Helpap said the president could have a real impact on races such as the 8th Congressional District.

“What is going to be really fascinating is how national level politics, national level issues are really infiltrating down and impacting how we view our state and local officials,” Helpap said.