Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy says he's resigning over unborn child's health issues

"Our baby, due in late October, will need even more love, time and attention due to complications, including a heart condition,” Duffy said.
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Rep. Sean Duffy, a Republican from Wisconsin, questions a Facebook executive during a House Financial Services Committee hearing July 17, 2019.Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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By Adam Edelman

Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., announced his resignation from Congress on Monday after finding out that his child is expected to be born with health issues.

In making the announcement, Duffy, a conservative Republican who represents a northern Wisconsin district, becomes at least the eighth GOP congressman to announce a departure from the chamber in recent weeks.

In a Facebook post Monday morning, Duffy said he was stepping down Sept. 23 so he could focus his time and attention on his family. Duffy and his wife are expecting their ninth child in October, and he said in his post that the baby was expected to be born with complications.

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“Recently, we’ve learned that our baby, due in late October, will need even more love, time and attention due to complications, including a heart condition,” Duffy said. “With much prayer, I have decided that this is the right time for me to take a break from public service in order to be the support my wife, baby and family need right now.”

“It is not an easy decision — because I truly love being your congressman — but it is the right decision for my family, which is my first love and responsibility,” he added.

Duffy, who initially rose to prominence as a cast member on the 1997 season of MTV’s “The Real World” reality television show, was elected to Congress in 2010.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, will have to call a special election to fill the seat. The governor’s office tells NBC that it is currently looking at dates.

Duffy won re-election in 2018 by a wide margin of 60 percent to 39 percent. The district also went overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump in 2016, 57 percent to 37 percent. It hasn’t always been solidly GOP, however. 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney won it by just 3 percentage points, and, although the district has been redistricted to become redder since 2010, Barack Obama carried the area in 2008.

Earlier this month, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas also announced he won’t seek re-election in 2020 — the biggest House GOP retirement since Paul Ryan’s in 2018.

Hurd's decision followed recent retirement announcements by GOP Reps. Paul Mitchell of Michigan, Pete Olson of Texas, Martha Roby of Alabama, Rob Bishop of Utah, and Texas Reps. Mike Conaway and Kenny Marchant.

Earlier this year, Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana — who leads the National Republican Campaign Committee’s 2020 recruitment efforts — and Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia announced that they also planned not to seek re-election. Meanwhile, Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., has decided to run for governor of Montana instead.

Carrie Dann and Alex Moe contributed.