MADISON (WKOW) --- Northern Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI-7) announced Thursday he will not run for U.S. Senate in 2018, opening the door to a number of other Republicans who may want to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin.
“After much prayer and deliberation, Rachel and I have decided that this is not the right time for me to run for Senate. We have eight great kids and family always comes first," wrote Rep. Duffy in a statement sent to 27 News. "Baldwin will be beat because her radically liberal Madison record and ideas are out of synch with Wisconsin. I look forward to helping our Republican nominee defeat her."
A number of other Republicans had expressed an interest prior to Duffy's announcement, including State Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa), who confirmed to 27 News Thursday she is still "strongly considering a run."
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald had also expressed an interest in running, but only if Congressman Duffy decided he wouldn't seek the nomination.
27 News has reached out to Sen. Fitzgerald for further comment.
Sen. Vukmir said a potential run by Sen. Fitzgerald wouldn't impact her own decision, even though she is currently Fitzgerald's assistant majority leader in the State Senate.
"Republicans in southeastern Wisconsin are used to primaries," Sen. Vukmir told 27 News.
Kevin Nicholson, an Iraq War Vet and management consulting executive from Waukesha County also told 27 News he is considering a run for the GOP nomination.
“My family and I are strongly considering a run for US Senate against Tammy Baldwin. Here in Wisconsin, we’ve had too many years of career politician Tammy Baldwin. I’m an outsider, and I know firsthand the challenges facing Wisconsin families and the sacrifices made by those who help keep us safe,” wrote Nicholson.
Nicholson served as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and also has a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Another name that has come up in Republican circles is that of Madison developer Eric Hovde, who narrowly lost the 2012 Wisconsin Republican U.S. Senate primary to former Gov. Tommy Thompson.
Meanwhile, at least four Super PAC groups have been set up to recruit Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to run for the nomination.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) responded to the news of Duffy's departure and the pool of possible GOP candidates remaining Thursday morning.
"With out-of-state money piling up to support Tea Party darling David Clarke, legislators across the state preparing to run, and their top candidate dropping out, the Republican establishment in Washington is scrambling to avoid a divisive, messy Republican primary in Wisconsin. No matter what circus emerges, Tammy Baldwin will continue to stand up to the powerful interests in Washington and fight for a Wisconsin economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," wrote Gillian Drummond, who is handling media relations specific to the U.S. Senate race for DPW.
A spokesperson for the Republican Party of Wisconsin also sent a statement in reaction to Duffy's announcement.
"There are strong potential candidates ready to draw a sharp contrast with Senator Baldwin, who is out of touch with Wisconsin values and in big trouble as a result. After 20 years of talk in Washington, it's not clear what she's done but protect the Washington status quo and reject real reform for Wisconsin's working families," wrote RPW Spokesperson Alec Zimmerman.