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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District (2008)

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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 eleventh profile in the series is Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: Ronald Kind (6-term incumbent)
Republican: Paul Stark
Libertarian: Kevin Barrett

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District follows the Mississippi and St. Croix River counties from the southern border of the state almost to Lake Superior. It encompasses the counties of: Buffalo, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lafayette, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Richland, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vernon and parts of Clark and Sauk counties.

History:
Kind was elected to represent the 3rd District in 1996 filling the open seat left by eight-term GOP congressman Steven Gunderson. Kind beat his GOP counterpart in that election, James E. Harsdorf, by 4.2 points. Since then Kind has capitalized on his incumbency advantage - winning by 43.1 points over Troy A. Brechler in 1998, 27.8 points over Susan Tully in 2000, 29.3 points over Bill Arndt in 2002, 12.9 points over Dale W. Schultz in 2004, and 29.7 points over Paul R. Nelson in 2006.

Kind serves on the Ways and Means Committee as well as the Natural Resources Committee.

Republican Paul Stark, owner of a construction company in Eau Claire, is running with traditional conservative messages: supporting a pro-life (anti-stem cell research) agenda, securing the borders, making English the official language of the United States, supporting education vouchers for school choice, simplifying the tax code, reducing federal spending, and continuing the fight against fanatical Islam.

Libertarian Kevin Barrett, a former lecturer at UW-Madison, gained national attention in 2006 for his views on calling for a new 9/11 investigation (Barrett converted to Islam in 1993). Libertarian candidates have previously run in the 3rd District just two times: in 2002 (3.2 percent) and 1982 (0.6 percent).

Outlook:
Kind's 3rd District is Democratic country. Thirteen of the seventeen counties that are completely enveloped in the district voted for Kerry in 2004: Buffalo (by 6.6 points), Crawford (11.5 points), Dunn (5.1 points), Eau Claire (9.7 points), Grant (2.6 points), Iowa (14.4 points), Jackson (8.9 points), La Crosse (7.9 points), Lafayette (5.7 points), Pepin (8.0 points), Pierce (3.4 points), Trempealeau (15.6 points), and Vernon (7.8 points). Only Juneau (6.0 points), Monroe (7.2 points), Richland (3.5 points), and St. Croix (9.3 points) counties voted for Bush. Kind's string of consecutive double-digit victory margins will therefore likely hit six straight elections.

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