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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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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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