Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, whom national Republicans had tried to recruit, announced Friday he will seek reelection in the House instead.
The Wisconsin congressman’s announcement is a blow to Senate Republicans who had hoped Gallagher could flip the pivotal US Senate seat.
“As the representative of Northeast Wisconsin and Chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, I have a rare, bipartisan opportunity in the 118th Congress to help restore American strength, prevent war in the Pacific, and defend our basic freedoms from communist aggression,” Gallagher said in a statement. “Accomplishing this mission and serving Wisconsin’s 8th District deserve my undivided attention. Therefore, I will not run for the Senate in 2024 and will pursue re-election to the House.”
The National Republican Senatorial Committee called Gallagher’s decision to not seek the seat “disappointing” but, nonetheless, said it would have a “strong candidate in Wisconsin,” a spokesperson for the Senate Republican campaign arm, Tate Mitchell, said in a statement following the congressman’s announcement.
The battleground state’s Senate seat is one Republicans are targeting in 2024.
“Senate Republicans’ top potential candidates are refusing to run because they know they cannot beat strong Democratic Senators like Tammy Baldwin,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Amanda Sherman Baity said in a statement. “Even the most sought after GOP recruits know their party’s toxic agenda and their vicious primaries will lead their campaigns to defeat in the general election.”
Baldwin announced in April that she would run for a third term, which gave Democrats an advantage over Republicans, who did not have a declared candidate at the time. Baldwin raised $2.1 million in the first quarter and ended with about $4 million.
Democrats landed a major victory when Janet Protasiewicz won Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race earlier this year by 10 points and flipped control of the bench to liberals in the swing state.
President Joe Biden carried Wisconsin by about a half point during the 2020 presidential election after Donald Trump won the state by a similar margin four years prior, so the Badger State is still a prime target for Republicans.
This story has been updated with additional information.