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Mike Gallagher Is Out. Now What?

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

It was quite the week for retiring Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who on Saturday announced he would not be seeking reelection, as Sarah covered. Gallagher, who is just about to turn 40, seemed to have a future in the House. He serves as the chairman of the House Select Committee on Competition with the Chinese Communist Party, and is an expert in tackling what may be one of the few bipartisan issues left. He had also even declined to run for Senate against vulnerable Democratic incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for reelection this year. 


Gallagher's post made no mention of his vote from Tuesday against impeaching Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but rather focused on his amount of time in Congress and his family. 

Nevertheless, Gallagher had been on the mind of many for such a vote. Fellow Republican Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Tom McClintock of California also voted against impeachment. The effort just barely failed. Buck had already announced his retirement. The House will try again on Tuesday, due to the return of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) who was out for cancer treatment. Mayorkas may indeed be impeached. Reactions to Gallagher's vote were still swift and severe, though. 

Pro-Trump speaker Alex Bruesewitz, who has already been in the headlines in recent weeks when it comes to his feud with Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), is himself considering a run for the seat. He's also made his displeasure quite known when it comes to Gallagher's vote from last Tuesday, as he called for Gallagher to be removed from his chairmanship that very night.

Reporting from The Wall Street Journal expanded upon Gallagher's addressing it as being about family:

The 39-year-old former Marine Corps intelligence officer cast the decision as personal, saying that he had always planned to treat his service in Congress as “a deployment, not a career.” His departure will further erode the ranks of GOP committee chairs, following decisions by other Republican chairs not to see another term.

“Eight years is a long deployment, and it’s been a hell of a deployment,” Gallagher said in an interview. A married father of two, Gallagher also said he hoped to expand his family and that “Congress is not an ideal place to build and raise a family.”

He had previously ruled out a run for the U.S. Senate, saying he preferred to stay in the House, where he felt his work as a committee chair would make a lasting impact. Republicans had hoped he would run because the Wisconsin Senate seat is one of eight Democratic-held seats rated by the Cook Political Report, a non–partisan election arbiter, as at risk of falling to Republican hands. Gallagher has also consistently outperformed former GOP President Donald Trump, and his principal campaign committee had more than $4 million in cash on hand at the end of 2023, federal records show—more than any other House Republican.


The report also highlighted how at 39-years-old, Gallagher is the youngest committee chairman. He also serves as a chairman of a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. "I feel that I’ve accomplished a lot of what I set out to accomplish," the WSJ quoted him as saying. 

His motivations but also Gallagher's vote against impeaching Mayorkas was addressed even more directly in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with added emphasis:

“I really just feel like I’ve accomplished much more than I even thought I could when I set out, and I firmly don’t believe that the best use for the next chapter of my career is staying in Congress for another decade,” Gallagher said in an interview.


Gallagher, 39, was first elected to Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District in 2016 and quickly made foreign policy and attempts at congressional reform his focus. The former Marine and intelligence officer has argued for term limits and said his decision to leave stays true to that thought process. 


But in an interview, Gallagher insisted party politics and the current Republican tumult in Congress did not play a role in his decision not to seek reelection. “I feel, honestly, like people get it, and they can accept the fact that they don’t have to agree with you 100%,” he said, later adding of the Mayorkas backlash: “The news cycle is so short that I just don’t think that stuff lasts.”

He said, however, that leaving Congress means he won’t have to constantly campaign — a move he says will “free me to just do my job.”

“(I’ve) beaten a lot of primary challengers and won by a greater margin than anyone in the history of the district, so I’ve been able to focus a lot on the job,” he said. “But still, like even in a presidential year, that’s hard.”


Although the article notes that Gallagher's "decision to leave the House was not a recent revelation. He and his wife had been discussing a potential change for about a year, he said," earlier on it aptly mentions that "Gallagher’s announcement came with little warning."

Not only did Gallagher share he won't be running again on Saturday, but former state Sen. Roger Roth announced his candidacy. He was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2022. Tim Michels, the Republican nominee for governor, ended up losing that election to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, 51.1 percent to 47.8 percent. 

Bruesewitz isn't too much of a fan of Roth either. "Roger Roth is also a proven loser," he told Townhall. "He dragged down Tim Michels during the general election."

When it comes to whether or not he'll run, Bruesewitz also told Townhall "I am strongly considering it but won't rush into a decision." He does have time, as the filing deadline isn't until June 3. "I have been invited to keynote the Waupaca County GOP event March 23rd and I was also invited to headline the Oconto County GOP caucus February 17th," he shared with Townhall. 


His X bio currently reads in part "Taking a VERY STRONG LOOK at #WI08," and Gallagher's decision has led to an increasing amount of posts and reposts from Bruesewitzabout such a consideration. 

This includes a pinned post for Bruesewitz's account.


Gallagher is only one of 20 House Republicans who have so far announced that they're not running for reelection. We similarly saw 35 House Democrats retiring in 2022.

Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District is an R+10 seat and in 2022 regarded as a "Safe" or "Solid Republican" seat. Gallagher won with over 72 percent of the vote that year. He also won his 2022 primary with close to 85 percent of the vote.

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