Tiffany defeats Zunker in special election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District

Tom Tiffany (R) defeated Tricia Zunker (D) in the special election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District. With 95% of precincts reporting, Tiffany received 57% of the vote to Zunker’s 43%. The special election was called to fill the vacancy left by former Rep. Sean Duffy (R), who left office in September 2019 in anticipation of the birth of a child with health complications.

Tiffany will serve in the U.S. House of Representatives until January 2021. To remain in office, he will need to win a partisan primary on Aug. 11 and the district’s regular election on Nov. 3, 2020.

Tiffany, a state senator, defeated Jason Church in the February 18 Republican primary by a margin of 15 percentage points. Zunker, a member of the Wausau School Board and associate justice on the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court, won the Democratic primary with 89% of the vote to Lawrence Dale’s 11%.

Duffy won his last election in 2018 by a margin of about 22 percentage points. Before Duffy took office in 2011, former Rep. Dave Obey (D) held the 7th District seat for 42 years. The 7th District includes or overlaps with six pivot counties, counties that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016 after voting for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012: Jackson, Juneau, Forest, Lincoln, Price, and Sawyer.

Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced on April 29 that there would be no delays in the special election due to the coronavirus pandemic. Clerks in the 7th District implemented safety measures including distributing hand sanitizer and personal protective equipment to poll workers, installing protective barriers in polling places, limiting the number of voters who may be present at a time, and making use of assistance from the National Guard.

As of May 2020, nine special elections have been called during the 116th Congress. Seven of those were called for seats in the U.S. House, and two were called for seats in the U.S. Senate. Regular elections to the U.S. House will be held on Nov. 3, 2020, and coincide with the 2020 presidential election. All 435 House districts will be up for election, and the results will determine the partisan balance of the U.S. House in the 117th Congress. As of May 2020, Democrats have a 233-196 advantage over Republicans in the House.

Additional reading:
Special elections to the 116th United States Congress (2019-2020)