Opera Singer Quits Campaign Against Duffy

The Stevens Point Journal reports:

Kirk Bangstad had just gotten back from Washington, D.C., where he had been told that he hadn’t raised enough money to prove he was a viable candidate against incumbent Republican Rep. Sean Duffy. Bangstad, a Democrat, had announced his candidacy in the 7th Congressional District in July.

A “tech consultant and opera singer,” Bangstad was able to self-fund to the tune of $40,000, raising $140,000 more, according to the SPJ report. Based on awkwardly-framed emails sent to supporters, which indicates poor political instincts, Democrat decisioners in DC made the decision for him: jump off the bus now, dude.

Bangstad is an example of Duffy’s strange dominance of a district once firmly in the grasp of hard-left Dave Obey. But Duffy, in addition to his fundraising prowess, is an unbeatable candidate mostly because he’s just a down-to-earth guy who works his ass off.

Money doesn’t buy elections, as the landslide re-elections of state Rep. Lee Nerison of the 96th Assembly district have time and time again demonstrated (Democrats have thrown millions at him over the years and he just keeps slaughtering their candidates).

Fortunately, Duffy has both money, appealing ideas, and likability.

As for potential Democrats who may now step up, the SPJ notes:

There are no other declared Democratic candidates in the race, so Bangstad’s decision to suspend his campaign is likely to set off a bit of a scramble in the party. Maybe scramble is too strong a word; the election is more than a year away. Still, running against Duffy is probably not a job a lot of people are lining up for.

In 2014, Duffy opponent Kelly Westlund raised an amazing $528,000. That’s a lot – but the DNC still pulled the plug on supporting Westlund before the election. Duffy ended up beating Westlund nearly 60 percent to 40 percent in a generally Democratic district in which the Democrats had early hopes of competing.

The real problem? The Democratic bench has been decimated in Wisconsin, but also nationwide. And the GOP bench is filled with top-notch up-and-coming leaders like Sean Duffy. There are many months yet to determine which half-asked Democrat will step into the Duffy bandsaw.

About the writer: Chris Rochester has worked in communications and finance for a state Senate and congressional campaign, consulted on numerous Assembly and local races, and has held leadership roles in his local Republican Party. He's communications director for the MacIver Institute. Commentary here is strictly his own.