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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 5th 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 thirteenth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Republican: F. James Sensenbrenner (15-term incumbent)
Independent: Robert R. Raymond

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District comprises the eastern counties of Ozaukee and Washington, along with parts of Jefferson, Waukesha, and Milwaukee counties.

History:
Sensenbrenner was first elected to Congress in 1978 from what was then Wisconsin's 9th District, winning the open seat of 2-term GOP congressman Robert Kasten. Sensenbrenner beat Democrat Matthew J. Flynn by 22.3 points in the first of his 15 consecutive victories. Twelve of those victories came in the 9th District, with an average margin of victory of 62.8 points (Democrats failed to field a candidate in 4 of those races). Democrats also failed to challenge Sensenbrenner in 2002 in the newsly drawn 5th District, when he won by 72.8 points over (2008 challenger) Independent candidate Robert Raymond. Sensenbrenner defeated Democrat Bryan Kennedy in 2004 by 34.8 points and in 2006 by 26.1 points - his smallest margin of victory in his 30 years running for Congress.

Sensenbrenner is a member of the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Science and Technology, and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming (Ranking Member).

Democrats have failed to field a candidate against Sensenbrenner again in 2008 - for the 6th time in 16 elections.

Independent candidate Robert R. Raymond will be on the ballot for the third time in the 5th District: he came in fourth place with 1.1 percent in 2006 and second place (out of two candidates) in 2002 with 13.3 percent.

Outlook:
It is somewhat surprising the Democrats could not field a candidate in 2008 - two years after Sensenbrenner faced his stiffest competition to date. But the fact of the matter is Sensenbrenner has been as assured to win reelection as any candidate in the Upper Midwest during the past three decades, even when he faces a major party challenger.

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Remains of the Data

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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