GOP field to take on Baldwin could be crowded

Political Beat

As potential GOP candidates weigh their options, Democrats are predicting a “circus” will emerge on the Republican side against U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, now that U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy won’t run against her next year.

Duffy (R-Wausau) announced recently that he’s passing on a challenge of the first-term Madison Democrat.

Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has said he would wait for Duffy to make a decision before seriously looking at the race. He did not return messages left on his cell phone. Fitzgerald warned at a luncheon that Republicans must avoid a crowded primary like 2012, when Tommy Thompson emerged with little money.

Fellow GOP Sen. Leah Vukmir said she was seriously considering the race even before Duffy dropped out. She said Fitzgerald’s decision wouldn’t impact whether she gets into the race. She also said having to give up her seat wouldn’t be a factor.

Vukmir (R-Brookfield) said all the candidates will have to determine if they can put together a team and have the ability to raise money for a top-tier race.
Others who have been mentioned as possible candidates include 2012 Senate candidate Eric Hovde, state Rep. and Joint Finance Committee member Dale Kooyenga and former Marine Kevin Nicholson, who’s now a management consultant.

Nicholson tweeted that he and his family are “strongly considering” a U.S. Senate bid.

Kooyenga, a member of the Joint Finance Committee, said he would not make a decision until after the state budget is finished.

There also has been an effort to persuade Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to get into the race. Conservative activist Eric O’Keefe, an informal adviser to Clarke, said the sheriff hasn’t given the possibility much thought. is a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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