Tiffany Wins Special Election

Republican Tom Tiffany wins the special election to replace Sean Duffy in the state's 7th Congressional District.

By Zac Schultz

May 13, 2020 • Northern Region

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Tom Tiffany

Republican Tom Tiffany will be the next representative from Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District after winning a May 12, 2020 special election.

Republican Tom Tiffany won the special election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District seat Tuesday night. Tiffany defeated Democrat Tricia Zunker with 57% of the vote.

Tiffany replaces Republican Sean Duffy, who resigned in late 2019. Wisconsin’s 7th District has been a reliably conservative seat since Duffy first won election in 2010, so it’s not a surprise the former state Senator won.

“First and foremost, thank you to all the voters of the 7th Congressional District that cast ballots in today’s election,” Congressman-Elect Tom Tiffany said in a statement. “And a huge thank you to all the supporters who worked so incredibly hard to make tonight’s decisive victory possible. This campaign would not have been possible without the support, enthusiasm, and energy you gave.”

Observers watched the election closely because of the uncertainties of lower turnout in a special election and holding an election during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an election year, any election is looked at as a possible bellwether for the fall. In 2018, Democrats in Wisconsin won two state Senate special elections before defeating former Republican Gov. Scott Walker that fall. In this race, Democrats and Republicans attempted to spin November meaning out of a May election.

“Trump went all in for Tom Tiffany and got egg on his face,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler in a statement, “For Trump to win reelection, red areas have to get redder to balance out blue areas getting bluer—but tonight, thanks to the terrific campaign run by Tricia Zunker and the organizing work of thousands of volunteers, Wisconsin’s reddest Congressional district swung drastically towards Democrats.”

“The Republican Party of Wisconsin is proud to congratulate Congressman-elect Tom Tiffany on his victory in Tuesday’s special election. The Republican Party of Wisconsin looks forward to re-electing Tom Tiffany and President Trump this fall,” said Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, Andrew Hitt in a statement.

Tiffany’s vote total is the lowest for a winner in the 7th in decades, but that is obviously because of the lower turnout in the special election. His unofficial margin of 57.2% would be the lowest for a Republican since Duffy took 56% in 2012, and it’s well below the 60%+ that Duffy received in the last two elections. Marathon County is at the heart of the 7th District and contains the most voters. Duffy has received 64% of the vote there his last three elections. Tiffany still won Marathon County comfortably, but his margin dropped to 58%.

Tiffany will have to defend his seat this November, and it could be a rematch if Zunker decides to run again.

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