Bon Iver's Longtime Manager To Announce A Bid For Congress

Feb 20, 2018

Kyle Frenette, longtime manager of Bon Iver and a co-founder of Middle West Management, "an artist management firm founded on the acute quiet of Midwestern work ethic," is planning a pivot to politics. The Wisconsin native will formally announce his campaign to represent the 7th Congressional District of his state this Thursday, his campaign manager Christian Duffy confirmed to NPR Music.

It may be an uphill climb for Frenette, 30, to the House of Representatives and the seat currently occupied by Republican Rep. Sean Duffy, a former district attorney and reality TV participant on The Real World: Boston, elected in 2010.

Wisconsin's 7th supported President Trump by a fairly wide margin in the last election — 57 percent versus 37 percent for Hillary Clinton, according to the Cook Political Report. Prior to Duffy's election, however, the WI-07 seat was held by Democrat Dave Obey for nearly 42 years.

Democrats need to pick up 24 seats in the House to win a majority in the upcoming midterm elections, and their prospects, according to experts, seem split.

"Democrats are mired in a crowded primary until the end of summer," Rep. Duffy's campaign spokesperson, Mark Bednar, writes in an email to NPR Music. "Meanwhile, Congressman Sean Duffy continues to fight for lower taxes, wage boosts, and greater opportunity for Wisconsinites of all backgrounds."

While there has been no announcement of his party affiliation, Frenette has been critical of Duffy's support of the GOP tax overhaul and attended a recent meeting of the Marathon County Democrats. Frenette announced on Saturday that had begun accepting contributions to the campaign via ActBlue, a left-leaning grassroots funding organization.

Frenette began managing Justin Vernon, founder and principal songwriter of Bon Iver, in April 2007 immediately after Vernon, little known at the time, was beginning to share his landmark album For Emma, Forever Ago.

"It was so unique sounding and raw and emotional," Frenette recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal for a story on the record's 10-year anniversary. "I was just taken aback and wanted to tell the whole world about it."

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