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Election Profile: Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District

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Smart Politics is running a series of election profiles of Upper Midwestern congressional races leading up to the November 2nd elections. The series will culminate with Smart Politics' official projections. The twelfth profile in the series is Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District.

Candidates:
Republican: Tom Petri (16-term incumbent)
Democrat: Joseph Kallas

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 14 elections by an average of 61.1 points - including six elections without major party opposition (all midterm election years: 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006).

Petri has only faced one competitive re-election contest in his career - 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).

The 70 year-old Congressman serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee.

He is also one of two Upper Midwestern House members (along with Minnesota Representative Erik Paulsen (MN-03) to belong to the center-right Republican Main Street Partnership. (The Partnership, with 43 Representatives, four Senators, and two 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).

Democrats, with nominee Joseph Kallas, are fielding a candidate against Petri in back-to-back election cycles for the first time since the 1982 and 1984 cycles.

Outlook:
Petri's moderate Republican credentials have served him well in this right-leaning district and will continue to do so in 2010. Wisconsin's 6th CD only has a +4 GOP Partisan Voting Index tilt, making it just the 190th most Republican district in the nation. Barack Obama carried the district by one point in 2008 while George W. Bush won it by 14 points in 2004.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District

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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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