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First Democrat enters race for open Wisconsin congressional seat in Republican district

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A doctor from De Pere became the first Democratic candidate in Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District on Thursday, entering the race for the open seat created after the surprise retirement of Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher.

Kristin Lyerly launched her candidacy two weeks before Gallagher plans to step down. 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.

“There is a clear path to victory even in what in the past has been an R-plus 16 district,” Lyerly said on UpNorthNews Radio in announcing her campaign, referring to the sharp Republican tilt of the district.

Lyerly said she would win “with women at the helm, with women voting, with women stepping up and acknowledging my personal freedom is being taken away from me.”

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

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 last month by refusing to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Jacque, Roth and Bruesewitz are all Trump supporters.

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

Trump won the district by 16 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.

Scott Bauer, The Associated Press

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