Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of all the Upper Midwestern U.S. Senate and U.S. House races leading up to the November 4th elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The ninth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District race.
Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District comprises the southeast corner of the state, including Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties, along with parts of Milwaukee, Rock, and Waukesha counties.
Paul Ryan was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, winning the open seat previously filled by two-term Republican congressman Mark Neumann. Ryan won that race by 14.4 points over Democratic nominee Lydia Carol Spottswood. Ryan followed that election with four consecutive blowout victories over Democrat Jeffrey Chapman Thomas: by 33.3 points in 2000, 36.6 points in 2002, 32.2 points in 2004, and 25.4 points in 2006.
Prior to 1994, the 1st District had been in Democratic hands since 1970, when Les Aspin ousted 2-term Republican incumbent Henry C. Schadeberg. Aspin held the seat through the 1992 election, with the Democratic Party also winning a special election in 1993 (Peter W. Barca) when Aspin resigned to become President Clinton's Secretary of Defense.
Ryan is a member of the House Committee on the Budget, where he is the Ranking Member, and the Committee on Ways and Means.
Democratic candidate Marge Krupp is running on a platform of ending the War in Iraq, reducing the cost of health care, and 'supporting working families.'
The race will also feature Libertarian candidate Joseph Kexel. Libertarian candidates have also appeared on the ballot in the 1st District in 2004 (0.8 percent), 2002 (2.1 percent), 1994 (1.8 percent), 1993 (0.3 percent), 1982 (0.9 percent), and 1980 (1.0 percent).
Ryan is a popular political figure among conservatives and moderates in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, and is an emerging leader in the GOP. He has not faced a competitive re-election campaign to date, and is an overwhelming favorite to return to D.C. for a sixth consecutive term.