Legislators decline run for Congress

In this April 16, 2013, file photo, Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Samantha Kerkman, with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos watching, talks to reporters in Madison. Kerkman and Vos have both declined to run for the seat held by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, who announced Wednesday, April 11, 2018, that he was not running for re-election.

Scott Bauer

MADISON — Two more Republican state lawmakers are declining to run for Congress to replace retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan.

State Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes, announced Monday that she intends to seek re-election to the Legislature rather than run for the 1st Congressional District seat. State Sen. Dave Craig, R-Vernon, did the same in a tweet Friday night.

“I want to use my experience and knowledge to continue to lay the groundwork at the state level which attracts jobs and investment in Kenosha County,” Kerkman, 44, said in a press release.

Kerkman represents the 61st Assembly District, which includes most of Kenosha County except for the City of Kenosha, the part of the Village of Somers east of Highway 31, and the Town of Wheatland.

Craig, 39, cited familial concerns for staying out of the race.

“My family is so thankful and humbled by the support shown to us these past few days,” he tweeted. “After much prayerful consideration, the timing to run for Congress is not right for our young family.”

Craig represents the 28th Senate District, which includes parts of Milwaukee, Waukesha and Walworth counties and the village and town of Waterford in Racine County.

Ryan was elected as the 1st District representative in 1998, has been re-elected nine times and has served as speaker of the house since Oct. 29, 2015.

The field narrows

There’s still plenty of time for someone to jump into the race to take Ryan’s 1st District seat: The filing deadline to file for candidacy is June 1. A primary election, if necessary, would take place on Aug. 14 with the general election set for Nov. 6.

Among the Republicans who have declined to run for the seat are: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester; former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, a Kenosha Tremper High School graduate; Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, who represents part of the Town of Burlington; and state Rep. Amy Loundenbeck, R-Clinton. Reportedly still considering a run is Bryan Steil, a University of Wisconsin regent.

Two other Republican candidates who do not currently hold office have announced campaigns. Nick Polce is a political newcomer and U.S. Army veteran who co-owns a security consulting firm. And Paul Nehlen is running against Polce after losing to Ryan in the 2016 primary by 68 points. Nehlen was banned from Twitter earlier this year for posts criticized as racist or anti-Semitic.

Seeking the Democratic nomination are Janesville teacher and School Board member Cathy Myers and ironworker and Army veteran Randy Bryce of Caledonia. Bryce is running an aggressive and well-financed campaign.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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