ASHLAND — Seventh District Congressman Sean Duffy is no longer an Ashland resident, having moved several weeks ago to the Village of Weston, near Wausau.
Duffy told The Daily Press Monday that he and his wife Rachel made the decision to move to reduce travel time between his family and his job as a U.S. Representative in Washington, D.C., and to locate himself where the bulk of his congressional business came from.
"If you look at the size of the district, I just found myself down in the southern part of the district frequently. I was spending so much time in the car, that it was hard to find enough time to be with my kids," he said. "I want to be a good congressman and a good dad. I just wasn't able to manage my time so that I could spend enough time with my kids.”
Duffy and his wife are the parents of six small children.
Duffy noted that living in Ashland, he also had to drive to Minneapolis to catch a flight to Washington and then return via Detroit to get back to Ashland.
"By flying out of central Wisconsin, instead of getting home at 10:30 at night, I can get to my new place by 7:15 p.m. and see my kids before they get to bed."
Duffy said it was a family decision, and not one he arrived at easily.
"I was born and raised in Hayward, and I've lived the last 10 years in Ashland, and I love it there. I was committed to try and make it work in Ashland, because I think it's a great place to raise my kids, but I just wasn't seeing them and I had to try and make a change so I could be an effective dad, and that's why I made the call," he said.
Duffy's move brought a critical response from Dan Goglin, chairman of the Chequamegon Democrats, the Democratic Party organization for Ashland and Bayfield counties.
"I'm disappointed Congressman Duffy has chosen to leave northern Wisconsin behind," Goglin said in a news release. "He says it's for family reasons, but personally, I don't think there's any place better to raise a family than northern Wisconsin.”
Goglin went on to speculate that "Maybe small-town life in rural northern Wisconsin just wasn't what Duffy wanted anymore after getting a taste of D.C."
"We know firsthand here in Ashland County how Duffy neglected his job as district attorney the moment he got a chance to climb the political ladder by running for Congress," Goglin said. "It'll be interesting to see what he does when the next opportunity comes along for him to climb the ladder again."
Duffy shrugged off the criticism with some sarcasm of his own.
"I understand the sadness exhibited by the Chequamegon Democrats," he said. "I think it goes to show how well I've gotten bipartisan support, and I know they are sad to see me leave the area. I know I've had a tremendous impact on them.”
Duffy noted that many congressmen moved their families to Washington, D.C.
"I'm not going to do that. I live in this district, but I'm living in an area that is more functional for me," he said.
Nevertheless, Duffy pledged he would not be seen less in the northern part of the district.
"After living there for 10 years, you have a lot of friends," he said. "My family still lives in Hayward, I still love northern Wisconsin, you will still see me all the time up north, but my home base has to be at a place where I can be more effective as a congressman and as a dad."