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Wisconsin's 2022 Gubernatorial Race

Trump calls on former Congressman Sean Duffy to run for Wisconsin governor

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Former President Donald Trump on Saturday called on retired U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy to enter the Wisconsin's 2022 gubernatorial race.

Duffy, who resigned in 2019 after learning that his ninth child had a heart condition, had been rumored to be a potential candidate for governor, but so far has not given any formal indication that he's seriously considering a run. What's more, property records show that Duffy sold his Wausau home in September, with the former congressman listing New Jersey as his state of residence.

That didn't stop Trump from issuing a statement Saturday morning that he was "working hard to get very popular and capable Former Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin to run for Governor."

"He would be fantastic!," Trump said. "A champion athlete, Sean loves the people of Wisconsin, and would be virtually unbeatable. His wife, Rachel, is likewise an incredible person."

"They are both doing very well, so this would be a big sacrifice, but hopefully it will be a sacrifice that will be made for the Great State of Wisconsin and its wonderful, hardworking people," Trump added. "Run Sean, Run!"

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Duffy, who was featured on MTV’s “The Real World,” is a former lumberjack athlete who served as a special prosecutor and Ashland County district attorney. On MTV, he met his wife, Rachel Campos-Duffy.

Duffy came into office on the Tea Party wave of 2010 and has become an avid Trump supporter. He served a little over eight years in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District until he resigned in 2019.

Documents posted on the state Department of Revenue website show that Duffy sold his Wausau home on Sept. 20. Documents list a New Jersey address for the former U.S. Representative.

An endorsement from Trump could provide a considerable boost for a GOP candidate looking to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who is seeking a second term next year after a narrow victory over former Gov. Scott Walker in 2018. Trump won the state in 2016 before losing to President Joe Biden last year by about 21,000 votes.

Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who officially declared her candidacy last month, is currently the most prominent Republican in the race leading up to next August’s GOP gubernatorial primary.

During her campaign announcement in Butler last month, Kleefisch likened her efforts as a candidate to that of Trump, who she called "one of the most pro-life presidents America has ever had."

"There were people who said it could not be done, but instead Donald Trump became one of the most successful policy presidents of our time, presiding over the best economy in American history," she said.

After serving eight years as lieutenant governor, Kleefisch was appointed by Trump as executive director of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, a Washington, D.C.-based group commemorating women’s suffrage. Kleefisch held the role for about nine months.

Kleefisch's campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Trump's statement Saturday.

"Whether the GOP nominates Radical Rebecca or a washed-up reality TV star, the GOP nominee for governor will be entirely too extreme for the state of Wisconsin," Kayla Anderson, spokesperson for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said in a statement.

Small business owner and entrepreneur Jonathan Wichmann also is running, while Republicans Adam Fischer, James Kellen and Leonard Larson Jr. also have filed paperwork to run.

Other Republicans considering a gubernatorial run include former businessman and four-term state Rep. John Macco, R-Ledgeview, who has filed paperwork likely setting the stage for a 2022 campaign, and former U.S. Marine Kevin Nicholson, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2018.

Nicholson has said he is planning to run for either governor or U.S. Senate but is awaiting a decision from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who has yet to declare whether he will seek another term in 2022. 

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