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

Candidates:
Democrat: Julie Lassa
Republican: Sean Duffy
Independent No War No Bailout: Gary Kauther

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:
The retirement of 21-term incumbent (and Appropriations Chair) David Obey has opened up one of the GOP's prized districts in 2010.

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 29.5 points. The closest race Obey ever faced was during the Republican revolution of 1994, when he beat his GOP contender Scott West by 8.7 points.

The Democrats send State Senator Julie Lassa to try to take Obey's place on Capitol Hill. Lassa has represented SD 24 since a 2003 special election that she won by 32.3 points in a four candidate race. Lassa was reelected by 35.2 points in 2004 and 35.4 points in 2008.

Republican nominee Sean Duffy has been the District Attorney of Ashland County since 2002. He is also well-known for his reality show stints in the 1990s and early 2000s (The Real World, Road Rules).

Also appearing on the ballot is Gary Kauther, under the Independent No War No Bailout banner.

Outlook:
Despite Obey winning the district on cruise control for years, Wisconsin's 7th CD only has a slight Democratic tilt during the last two presidential election cycles of +3 points. That makes it just the 174th most Democratic district in the nation. Barack Obama won the district by 13 points while John Kerry won it by just one point. As such, nothing has come easy for State Senator Lassa during this campaign, and Duffy has outraised her by more than $600,000 through mid-October. Take that fundraising advantage as a sign of strong momentum for the GOP in the 7th CD heading into Election Day.

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Previous post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 6th Congressional District
Next post: Election Profile: Wisconsin's 8th 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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