Several Republicans Already Considering Bid To Replace Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner

Candidate List Includes Former U.S. Senate Candidates, State Lawmakers

U.S. Capitol
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

A field of several potential GOP candidates for Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District is already forming, less than 24 hours after longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced he won’t seek re-election next year.

Sensenbrenner, who announced his intentions on Wednesday, has served 21 terms in Congress. His southeastern Wisconsin district is seen as a conservative bastion in the state, where the incumbent won with 62 percent of the vote in the 2018 election.

Republican candidates who have already expressed interest in the seat include former U.S. Senate candidates Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Sen. Chris Kapenga, state Sen. Dale Kooyenga, state Rep. Adam Neylon and GOP aide Ben Voelkel.

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Farrow said Thursday he’s still considering the possibility.

“People have asked me to consider it,” he said. “My family and I are going to take some time to think about it and think about the oppportunities.”

The county executive said he’s not surprised by the size of the field.

“There have been conversations, whenever Congressman Sensenbrenner was finally going to step aside, it was going to be a big race,” he said.

Farrow called Sensenbrenner a “stalwart” and lauded his bipartisan work in Congress.

“I think that’s why he was able to get legislation passed under Republican and Democratic presidents,” Farrow said. “That’s something I try to emulate.”

Fitzgerald issued a statement Thursday morning saying he is “seriously weighing” a bid.

“Everybody knows that D.C. is a mess, and in need of more Wisconsin-style common sense,” Fitzgerald said. “President Trump needs strong allies to fix it and in the coming days I’ll be seriously weighing a run for Congress with my family and my team.”

An aide for Vukmir said Thursday the former candidate, who also served in the state Senate from 2011 until 2019, is “strongly considering” entering the race.

Another former U.S. Senate candidate, Kevin Nicholson, tweeted on Wednesday he will make a decision “later” about whether to run.

At least one Democrat, Tom Palzewicz, has also announced he would run for the open seat. Palzewicz lost to Sensenbrenner in the 2018 election.

Sensenbrenner’s announcement comes roughly a week after Republican U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy announced he would resign from Wisconsin’s 7th District.