De Pere doctor runs as first Democratic candidate for Wisconsin's open 8th Congressional District seat

Kristin Lyerly, a doctor from De Pere, is the first Democratic candidate in Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District, which is open in the 2024 election following the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher.

Associated Press

April 4, 2024 • Northeast Region

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Kristin Lyerly sits and uses a laptop computer on a desk with a lamp with a camed glass shade, in a room with an open curtain and window in the background.

Dr. Kristin Lyerly sits in her office on Aug. 2, 2023, in Green Bay. Lyerly entered the race on April 4, 2024 as a Democratic candidate for an open seat in Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District. (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

AP News

By Scott Bauer, AP

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A doctor who performs abortions became the first Democratic candidate in Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District on April 4, entering the race for the open seat opened up by the surprise retirement of Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher.

Dr. Kristin Lyerly, an obstetrician and gynecologist, launched her candidacy two weeks before Gallagher’s expected departure date. Because of the timing of his resignation, there will be no special election.

For now, Lyerly is unopposed in the Democratic primary to be decided Aug. 13. Democrats fielded no candidate in the 2022 election.

Two Republicans, state Sen. Andre Jacque and former state Sen. Roger Roth, are running and a third is expected to get in the race. Republican consultant Alex Bruesewitz planned to make an announcement on April 8. Bruesewitz, 26, was born in Wisconsin but currently lives in Florida. He would have to move back to Wisconsin to run for the seat.

Lyerly made clear that she would make abortion a central issue in the race.

Lyerly was one of the plaintiffs in a Wisconsin lawsuit that succeeded in keeping abortions legal after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022. She performed abortions across Wisconsin, but temporarily moved her practice to Minnesota after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“As an OB/GYN, I have been attacked first hand by MAGA extremists targeting a woman’s right to make her own health choices,” Lyerly said in a statement. “I will work tirelessly to ensure that every woman in our state has access to reproductive care, including safe and legal abortions, essential services like maternity care, and mental health support.”

Wisconsin Right to Life’s executive director criticized Lyerly’s entry in the race, saying “Wisconsin needs elected officials who protect all life.”

Gallagher was elected four times to serve northeast Wisconsin. His early departure leaves Republicans with a 217-213 majority in the House, meaning they cannot afford to lose more than one vote on a party-line vote.

Gallagher found himself at odds with former President Donald Trump and his supporters. He also angered fellow Republicans in March by refusing to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Jacque, Roth and Bruesewitz are all Trump supporters and oppose abortion.

The district is solidly Republican, but Democrats have vowed to make it competitive.

Trump won the district by 16 percentage points in 2020, even though he lost the state by less than a point to President Joe Biden. Gallagher won reelection three times by no fewer than 25 points. The district includes the cities of Appleton and Green Bay, Door County and covers mostly rural areas north through Marinette.

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