GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — U.S. Congressman Mike Gallagher, who represents Wisconsin's 8th congressional district, announced that he will not run for re-election in November.
In his eight years in Congress, Gallagher gained influence in the Republican Party as a top national security expert, serving as the chair of the high-profile Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. This position made him the youngest committee chair in recent history.
This unexpected decision to step down comes as Gallagher is at the height of his political career.
“I've always had in mind a more balanced career where I would do stints of service in the public sector, and then return to the private sector," Gallagher said. "My wife and I want to continue to grow our family and that has to take priority for me."
But Gallagher declined to say for certain whether his next “stint” in the public sector would include a run for governor.
“That is definitely not on my radar right now at all,” Gallagher said. “I'm not ruling out anything in the future. I know I'll always have a passion for public service and for the state of Wisconsin, but I have absolutely zero plans right now to run for office in the future. I just haven't ruled anything out.”
The congressman said he has not yet decided what his private sector plans might be.
“I don't have it figured out just now,” Gallagher said. “I still, you know, there's still a lot left in the 118th Congress and, you know, I'm gonna focus on doing my day job. And actually not having to focus on re-election allows me to focus 100% on my day job.”
During his career, Gallagher has often been a more moderate voice in the GOP, and has at times been at odds with his party.
Just this week, he voted against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejando Mayorkas. He said the public’s response to that vote didn’t influence his decision to not seek re-election.
“I've been through this at least twice before; and it was way worse when, for example, I didn't object to the election last time and was vocally critical of the president for his behavior on January 6,” Gallagher said. “There's some other high-profile votes where I've gone against the grain of the party. I sort of feel like providing an independent voice thank you for myself because it's something essential.”
Gallagher leaves Congress as Donald Trump, who he has criticized in the past, is emerging as the party's presumptive nominee.
He described his opinions on the current state of the Republican Party.
“I think there are certain things that unite us,” Gallagher said. “For example, on issues I focus most closely on, on the threat posed by China, I think there's a lot of agreement. Now there's other areas where there's disagreement. There's disagreements over, you know, whether and how much aid to provide to Ukraine. . . I actually think it’s a feature, not a bug of the party, if we allow for honest and open debate and different viewpoints on issues while still being firmly committed to conservative principles.”
Just hours after Gallagher's announcement, Roger Roth, a former state senator from Appleton, announced on X that he'll be running for Gallagher's seat.