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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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