Another prospective Republican candidate for U.S. Senate has announced he won’t run in 2024, leaving U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin without a declared GOP challenger in her reelection bid.
U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, announced Tuesday that he will seek reelection in his northwestern Wisconsin Congressional district instead.
“While Tammy Baldwin is vulnerable due to her record as a rubber stamp for President Biden, I can make the greatest impact continuing to serve the great people of Wisconsin in the House of Representatives,” Tiffany said in a written statement.
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A spokesperson for his campaign said that Tiffany will support whoever runs against Baldwin next year. So far, there are no declared contenders.
Tiffany’s decision comes less than two months after another Republican congressperson, Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, announced he will not run.
Tiffany entered Congress after winning a 2020 special election in a landslide. He won with a similar margin in 2022.
But he’d face a different electorate running for statewide office, according to Anthony Chergosky, a political scientist at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
“It seems like Tiffany would have a pretty darn good chance at winning the Republican nomination if he opted to run,” Chergosky said. “But he does, after all, represent a very secure district, and running for Senate would have been a major roll of the dice on his part.”
Meanwhile, Baldwin’s 2024 race will be her third. She won her 2018 election by 11 percentage points, and has made a strong fundraising showing to date, raking in some $3.3 million during the second quarter of this year. That leaves her with a campaign war chest of about $5.5 million.
By contrast, the Tiffany campaign brought in about $114,000 in the same time period. That marked an increase in fundraising that suggested he was eyeing a run, but the relatively low sum reflected the fact that the Republican Party has not yet unified behind a candidate, Chergosky said.
With a wide open Republican field, Baldwin’s path to a third term looks relatively unencumbered, said Chergosky.
“Theoretically, the Republicans could make a strong play for Tammy Baldwin’s seat,” he said. “But if they continue to struggle to find anyone to run against her, then Baldwin will most likely win reelection — and could win reelection quite comfortably.”
The Baldwin campaign declined to comment.
Arik Wolk, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Democratic Party said Tiffany’s decision “leaves Republicans staring down a messy and chaotic Senate primary.”
“Ultra-MAGA Congressman Tom Tiffany cried wolf about running for Senate but ended up passing because he knows his extremist record doesn’t hold a candle to the work Tammy Baldwin has done for Wisconsin,” Wolk said.
Some other Republicans have indicated interest in the seat, including Franklin businessman Scott Mayer, Madison businessman Eric Hovde and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.
Clarke has not made any announcements yet, but has alluded to a potential run on social media, pointing to a poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showing he is preferred among Wisconsin’s GOP voters.
“This poll has to give the (Republican National Committee) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee sleepless nights when somebody outside their establishment circle wipes away these other GOP potential primary candidates,” Clarke tweeted in June. “None of them energizes or excites the base voter like I do.”
Clarke has not previously run a statewide campaign. Hovde ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2012, coming up short to former Gov. Tommy Thompson in a four-way GOP primary.
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