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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 7th 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 fifteenth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District race.

Candidates:
Democrat: David Obey (20-term incumbent)
Republican: Dan Mielke

District Geography:
Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District stretches from the central to the northern counties in the state: Ashland, Bayfield, Barron, Burnett, Chippewa, Douglas, Iron, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Washburn, Wood and parts of Clark, Eau Claire, Langlade, Polk, and Oneida counties.

History:
Obey was elected in 1969 by 3.2 points over Walter J. Chilsen to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of 9-term GOP Representative Melvin R. Laird to become Secretary of Defense, making him the youngest member of Congress at that time. Obey successfully defended his seat in each of the next 20 elections, by an average margin of victory of 29.9 points. The closest race Obey faced was during the Republican revolution of 1994, when he beat his GOP contender Scott West by 8.7 points. Obey won a rematch with West in 1996 by 14.1 points and the next four elections by 21.3 points, 26.6 points, 28.4 points, and 76.2 points in 2004 (Obey did not face a GOP challenger in 2004). In 2006 Obey won his 20th consecutive U.S. House race by defeating Republican Nick Reid by 27.2 points.

Obey is the senior member of the Wisconsin delegation to Congress. The Representative is the only Democratic member of the House to have served on the three major economic committees in the Congress: the Budget Committee, the Joint Economic Committee, and the Committee on Appropriations, where Obey is Chairman and serves as a member of all twelve Appropriations Subcommittees.

Republican Dan Mielke, who works in agriculture and farming, is running on a platform of protecting property rights, restoring 'constitutional government,' and making government more transparent.

Outlook:
Obey is the elder statesman of Wisconsin politics and holds very prominent committee assignments in the U.S. House, which (along with 40 years building his name recognition) always makes him an attractive candidate to retain his seat - despite the fact that his district is not overwhelmingly Democratic. George W. Bush actually carried 9 of the 15 counties that are completely contained within the 7th District in 2004: Burnett (by 2.6 points), Chippewa (2.6 points), Lincoln (3.4 points), Marathon (8.1 points), Rusk (2.1 points), Sawyer (5.7 points), Taylor (18.4 points), Washburn (0.6 points), and Wood (4.1 points). John Kerry only won Ashland (by 27.1 points), Bayfield (21.6 points), Douglas (32.2 points), Iron (1.8 points), Portage (13.6 points), and Price (0.4 points).

Previous post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District (2008)
Next post: Live Blog: Ashwin Madia, DFL-3rd CD candidate

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Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


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