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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 6th 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 fourteenth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Republican: Thomas E. Petri (15-term incumbent)
Democrat: Roger A. Kittelson

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District comprises the east-central counties of the state: Calumet, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Manitowoc, Marquette, Sheboygan, Waushara, Winnebago, and parts of Adams and Jefferson counties.

History:
Petri won a special election by just 0.8 points over Democrat Gary R. Goyke in 1979 to fill the vacancy due to the death of seven-term Republican Representative William A. Steiger. Petri won the rematch with Goyke in 1980 by 18.7 points and then won the next 13 elections by an average of 63.7 points - including six elections without major party opposition (all non-presidential election years: 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006). Petri has only faced one competitive re-election contest - a 5.8-point win over Democratic nominee Peggy A. Lautenschlager in 1992 (the closest U.S. House race in the Badger State that year).

Petri serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee. He is one of two Upper Midwestern House members (along with Minnesota Representative Jim Ramstad (MN-03) of the center-right Republican Main Street Partnership (the Partnership, with 44 Representatives, 6 Senators, and 2 governors, bills itself as a coalition building force to promote policies that are supportive of conservation and preservation of our natural resources, accountability in the education system, maintaining a strong national defense, increasing economic growth, encouraging renewable energy resources, reforming Social Security, creating more affordable health care, creating transparency and accountability in Congress, and creating American competitiveness through free and fair trade.

Kittelson, who works in agribusiness, is campaigning for fair trade, bringing the troops home from Iraq, expanding health care coverage, repealing No Child Left Behind, balancing the federal budget, and eliminating the federal debt.

Outlook:
All nine counties that are entirely contained within the 6th Congressional voted for George W. Bush in 2004 - and six of them by double-digit margins: Calumet (17.5 points), Dodge (23.8 points), Fond du Lac (26.6 points), Green Lake (28.2 points), Manitowoc (5.3 points), Marquette (9.6 points), Sheboygan (10.9 points), Waushara (13.3 points), and Winnebago (6.3 points). Petri's moderate Republican credentials in this conservative stronghold of the state will serve him well in what is shaping up to be a big year for the Congressional Democrats.

Previous post: Humphrey Institute Candidate Forums: Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District (2008)

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

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.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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