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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

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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