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Category “2010 WI-07 Race”

But The Seat’s Not “Red”…Yet

From this morning’s “Morning Score” email from Politico, which I called last night.

PICKING FAVORITES: The DCCC is announcing 11 new additions to its “Red to Blue” list of targeted races Monday, with two particularly telling names on the list: Hawaii state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, the non-DCCC-favored candidate in last month’s special election for her state’s 1st Congressional District, and West Virginia state Sen. Mike Oliverio, who ousted Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan in a May primary. Neither of those contenders was their party’s top choice; both of them are now the standard-bearers Democrats have settled on for November. Also on the list: Tarryl Clark (in MN-06); Chad Causey (in AR-01); Joyce Elliott (in AR-02); Denny Heck (in WA-03); Julie Lassa (in WI-07); Gary McDowell (in MI-01); Tommy Sowers (in MO-08); Manan Trivedi (in PA-06) and Trent Van Haaften (in IN-08).

NOTABLE: Seven of those seats are actually not targeted for flipping from “red to blue” — they’re open seats being targeted for retention.

(The “Picking Favorites” opening at the start of that paragraph is the actual wording used in the email.  It’s irony applying to what the DCCC, DPW, and David Obey did is just delicious to no end.)

As I posted last night in my compilation post, the DCCC doesn’t have a catch-all program for its seats like the NRCC’s “Young Guns,” so they’re piggybacking the name “Red to Blue” for many of the Democratic-held open seats this cycle.  The confusion (and irony) is that many of these seats were never “Red” in the first place.

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“Duffy Recipient of Underage Slave Labor”

Oh, I’m sorry.  Somehow I had gotten a look at what was on the desk of Mike Tate and Graeme Zielinski over at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin when they got a view of this video on YouTube.

I mean, they have to spin it bad for Duffy somehow, right?  We can’t have 14 year old boys — out of the sheer goodness of their heart and in the name of being neighborly — cutting the Duffy family lawn for free so Sean can get extra time on the campaign, can we?

That’s just not right!

…and why isn’t some kid in Stevens Point doing that for Lassa on YouTube…right now?!?

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New 7th District Democrat Once Ran in Texas as Republican

Hey, looks like the Journal Sentinel now gets to work on the Democratic version of their famed Dick Leinenkugel editorial from last week.

This ought to be fun.

A man running for Congress in Wisconsin as a Democrat made an unsuccessful bid for a Texas seat in 2006 as a Republican.

Joe Reasbeck of Iron River has announced he will challenge state Sen. Julie Lassa of Stevens Point for the Democratic Party nomination to succeed retiring Rep. Dave Obey.

Reasbeck is getting attention for running a 2006 write-in campaign for a Texas congressional seat that had been held by Rep. Tom DeLay. He earned 89 votes in the race, which was won by Democrat Nick Lampson.

Reasbeck and other Republican candidates were listed as independents on the ballot after DeLay’s name was removed. But he said he was running as a Republican at the time and his campaign listed his party affiliation as Republican in a federal filing.

This revelation — which I admit seeing over the weekend when I did my Google search, but figured they were two separate individuals, not one individual — pretty much will put Reasbeck into a category reserved for many political after-thoughts.

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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men Often Go Awry

So much for the Democrats avoiding a primary in the 7th Congressional District. Not that Dave Obey, Mike Tate, and others didn’t try.

One almost have to love the acting job Rep. Louis Molepske Jr. (D-Stevens Point) did in his role of “Lone Elected Official Holding Out and Thinking About Challenging the Establishment.”   Stellar work sir.

Emmy worthy actually.

An author and internet consultant from Iron River, Wisconsin wants to grab retiring Wisconsin Congressmen Dave Obey’s seat.

Joe Reasbeck is expected to make the official announcement tomorrow morning at the Richard Bong Museum in Superior.

Reasbeck, who will be a Democratic contender, says he seeds a need for leadership to create sustainable jobs that help diversify the economy. He says it’s important because local economics today are competing with the world.

Reasbeck most recently served as an advisor on the Google Twin Ports Movie.

Wisconsin State Senator Julie Lassa is also campaigning for the 7th district office on the Democratic ticket.

Ashland District Attorney Sean Duffy and Dan Mielke are the Republican contenders for the seat.

A quick Google search on Reasbeck finds that his is the author of “Nearfall,” the story about two brothers on their high school wrestling team.  It hit paperback in 2007.   Another link shows their was talk about making it into a movie in 2009.

So if all of the above is true, he’s going to have money possibly attached to him.  Which likely means Lassa won’t have a “gnat,” but an actual challenger here depending on how series of a run Mr. Reasbeck puts it.

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State Expects Only 20,000 New Jobs in 2010

You have to love the quote from State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison) here.  Of course his business is seeing improvement, isn’t his print shop in Madison the one all the state legislative Democrats usually go to in Wisconsin to get their bumper stickers and other campaign needs?

(Could be wrong on that one…)

Wisconsin’s battered economy will add a projected 20,000 jobs this year, and soon-to-be-released state tax collections are also expected to show some strength, state officials said.

But there’s a limit to these glimmers of good news for a recession-weary state. The jobs growth forecast in the latest state Department of Revenue report is just over one-tenth of the jobs that have been lost since January 2008, meaning a full recovery in employment isn’t expected until early 2013.

In the meantime, experts cautioned that there are still plenty of challenges ahead for the state’s economy and the state budget, which supports critical services such as schools and health care.

“It’s positive but it’s not much of a number from a recovery standpoint,” David Ward, president of North Star Economics, said of the jobs figure. “This is as slow as I’ve seen.”

The slow improvement is providing some benefits to the state’s struggling budget, said Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), a small-businessman and co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. Pocan said still unreleased state tax figures for April will show some improvement over prior months in state income tax and sales tax collections.

“Overall, it’s been a very positive month,” said Pocan, who believes the state’s economy is finally mending.

April’s income tax returns make it a key month for state tax collections – unexpectedly low collections for the same month last year raised the state budget shortfall to more than $6 billion, plunging the Capitol into a crisis. To balance the budget, Democrats who control state government slashed funding for schools and raised taxes on cigarettes and the wealthy.

Now, the state budget is expected to finish its two-year cycle in June 2011 with roughly $30 million in reserves in its main account, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. That’s not even enough to run all of state government for a full day, meaning that almost any hit to the budget could trigger a repair bill and call lawmakers back from recess to enact another painful round of budget cuts or tax increases.

Good to see the Democrats have put the State Senate Committee Chairwoman for the “Economic Development Committee” as their chosen candidate in the 7th Congressional District.  With job growth numbers like that being forecast, it’s good to know they when with their strongest player in that department.

(Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

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Shibilski Won’t Run in WI-07

Just breaking from WisPolitics.com

It is no secret that I have had a desire to run for Congress if the opportunity should arise. Since I learned of Dave Obey’s decision, I have seriously considered entering the race. I believe I would have been a strong candidate with a good chance of success, and I’m grateful to the hundreds of people who expressed their support and encouraged me to run.

I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I wish there had been more time and a more open process to select a candidate. I think primaries are healthy, test a candidate, and give the winner momentum and energy.

However, I have reluctantly decided not to run.

It is more important to elect a Democrat to succeed Dave Obey than it is to elect Kevin Shibilski.

There is a short time frame for this campaign; the Republicans have a head start. I will be as active as I can be, in any way I can, to see that Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District remains in the Democratic column.

All that remains for a possible primary challenge for the Democrats for the hand-picked candidate, State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point), is Rep. Louis Molepske Jr, (D-Stevens Point), who is said to be mulling a decision.  It is no secret that top Democrats in Madison and Washington, DC do not want a primary.  Just yesterday, Governor Doyle himself endorsed the idea.

Expect to see all sorts of political favors thrown at Molepske for him to stay out of the race.  That frankly, is sad.  So much for letting the people decide the candidate.  This is Wisconsin, birthplace of the primary process after all.

Guess that need not apply when a congressional seat and the state legislature are on the line.

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Lassa to Run in WI-07

Was she the one made “Heir Apparent” at the rumored summit held by Obey over the past weekend in Wausau?  Or is she just the first one in?

Dem state Sen. Julie Lassa has decided to get in the race for the 7th CD to replace the retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, sources tell WisPolitics.

One top Dem source said an announcement was “imminent.”

Lassa, 39, was elected to the state Assembly in 1998 and then won a special election in 2003 for her Senate seat, which covers the Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield areas along the southern edge of the 7th CD.

Of the political dominoes, Lassa makes the most sense.  Her State Senate seat is not up for re-election until 2012, so she can run and still keep her seat if she’s unsuccessful.  All other potential elected legislators talked as potential candidates would have to relinquish their seats for the November election. No reported comment on whether they were going to jump in from State Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Schofield), State Senator Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls), Rep. Louis Molepske (D-Stevens Point), or Rep. Amy Sue Vruewink (D-Marshfield) as of today.

Wausau Attorney Christine Bremmer has already chosen not to run.

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Cook: WI-07 Now “Toss-Up”

Here it is:

Without Appropriations Chair and 20-term Democratic Rep. Dave Obey on the ballot, GOP Ashland County prosecutor Sean Duffy suddenly has a more realistic shot at a seat in Congress than any other reality TV contestant-turned-candidate before him (which, we know, isn’t saying much). In the current political environment, any heavily working-class seat that falls close to the national partisan average (PVI D+3) isn’t the type of open seat Congressional Democrats want to defend. President Bush came within one percent of carrying this seat in 2004.

You can’t blame Obey for admitting he’s “worn out” from Congress. Yet Obey’s retirement isn’t likely to trigger a logjam of Democrats headed for the exits, as most filing deadlines have now passed. Instead, Obey’s announcement may trigger a logjam of Democratic hopefuls for his seat. After all, the nomination hasn’t been up for grabs since 1969. And as Democrats eye a mid-September primary, Duffy is sitting on plenty of money he raised in part because his bid against the Appropriations Chair has garnered plenty of national conservative interest.

This district becomes the 13th marginal open seat Democrats will have to defend. And it’s by no means the most perilous. Even though this district is 95 percent white, it has a strong progressive tradition dating back nearly a century, and Duffy can’t simply expect to win by running as a standard-issue conservative Republican. Democrats will have plenty of ammo against Duffy and will try to portray him as too flashy and attention-seeking for a humble Wisconsin north woods electorate. Indeed, Duffy may be more personally relevant in a campaign against a Democrat who lives and works in Wisconsin rather than the House’s most powerful committee chair.

Still, the current enthusiasm gap between the parties and the competitiveness of this district at the national level warrant moving WI-07 from the Likely Democratic column to the Toss Up column. The most important district to watch over the next month continues to be PA-12, where the May 18th special election will tell us something about voter intensity and attitudes in blue-collar areas Democrats have represented for a long time.

Meanwhile, the Journal Sentinel gives the run-down on who might now get in on the Democratic side, which is a clearly a once in a lifetime occurrence for likely many of these politicians.

U.S. Rep. Dave Obey’s abrupt announcement Wednesday that he would exit the political stage shook up the race in the 7th Congressional District – for both sides of the aisle.

“Fundamentally, it instantly flips it from Democrat favored to a tossup,” said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist.

About a half dozen Democrats – most of them state lawmakers – are considering running for the seat, said Obey and state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate. Meanwhile, state Rep. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) left open the possibility he would mount a campaign as well, which would create a tougher Republican primary for Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy.

Democrats were shocked when Obey said he wouldn’t seek a 22nd term, but said they needed to quickly put their focus on who would run to succeed him.

“It’s May 5. The time to be stunned is short,” said Jim Smith, who has long worked on Democratic campaigns.

Tate said he’d talked to several state lawmakers who are considering getting in the race and that a Wausau attorney was also thinking about joining the Democratic field.

He said he believed Democrats would work out among themselves who is the best candidate and avoid a primary for a seat that’s been off-limits to other Democratic candidates for four decades.

Two things:

1) Tate’s kidding himself if he thinks he can avoid a primary in this seat.  It’s been forty years since this seat opened up.  Can one really believe that many of these egos are going to just set their differences aside for the sake of “hanging on to the seat?”

Yeah didn’t think so.

2) Half the fun of what’s about to happen now is watching where the dominoes fall in this district.  Will Decker run, which will cause Petrowski to run for the 29th State Senate District instead of possibly getting in a primary with Duffy?  Does Siedel run which pretty much ensures a completely new leadership in the Assembly Democratic Caucus with the Nelson run for Lt. Governor?

The Chinese proverbs indeed had it right; “May you live in interesting times…”

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Obey to Retire

Yeah, I’m late to the party on this.

Bone-tired and facing a tough political landscape at home, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey announced Wednesday that he won’t seek re-election, ending a 41-year House career stamped by his unique talent and tempestuousness.

Rarely does a committee chairman of such power just walk away, and Obey’s decision is both a blow to Democrats and marks the passing of one of the last major leaders of the 1970’s reforms that reshaped the modern House.

“I am ready to turn the page, and frankly, I think that my district is ready for someone new to make a fresh start,” Obey said in an afternoon press conference in his committee’s meeting room.

Despite poor polls at home, he insisted that could win re-election in November but admitted he feared another reapportionment fight in the next Congress and a shift in the public mood against the aggressive public investments which have been his trademark.

“I do not want to be the position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee of producing and defending lowest common denominator legislation that is inadequate to that task,” Obey said, “And given the mood of the country, that is what I would have to do if I stayed.”

The chairman’s retirement is not entirely a surprise, but as of late Tuesday night, Obey’s staff had insisted he was running aggressively and had hired campaign staff. Only Wednesday morning did a person close to him confirm to POLITICO that he was leaving, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was only informed then as well.

Let’s state the obvious here: This is huge news in Wisconsin, no matter what your political alignment.  Obey was a fixture (an angry, firebrand of a fixture) for over forty years and it will feel odd with him not being there.  It is odder still that he’s retiring, just like that.  A part of me always felt the only way David Obey was leaving Congress was in a pine box.

Let’s go over the basics of this new paradigm in Wisconsin politics shall we.

1) Mike Tate, please go change your pants.  No one will blame you if you need to.

Makes you wonder if the wunderkind best known for false robo-calls to the elderly was expecting both Doyle and Obey to step aside in 2010 when he was anointed last summer.

2) Duffy Campaign take the victory lap, you’ve earned it.

I honestly grew to believe as this campaign between Duffy was gearing up, that Obey had forgotten how to campaign over the years.  Then add in the new modern environment of campaigns with websites, blogs, social networking, and the like and you wonder how he was going to handle it all.  My friend Patrick Ruffini (a Duffy campaign consultant for his website and new media) told me at CPAC that the Obey campaign had finally set up its first campaign website in January and that prior to this cycle, Obey had never felt the need to put one up.

That fact alone, if true from what Ruffini told me, was itself telling.

3) If you know who the Democrats are going to run in Obey’s stead, please call me.

Going through the number of Democrats in the 7th, I look at who not only could run, but could win.  Logically, since he’s coveted the seat for years, State Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker (D-Schofield) would make sense…if it weren’t this year.  Now he’s got baggage from this past legislative session — $5 Billion in new taxes for starters — that would give off a stink and it will effect not only him, but all legislators from Northern Wisconsin as well.

My early guess of who runs? A mayor or village president from the district.

One does wonder if they’ll be a primary up there …

Democrats in the 7th — hell the entire state — are dealing with the loss of their Godfather.  It’s going to be odd to see once the grieving process is over.

4) Kagen Must Really Be Scared Now.

Admittedly, this demand by Marc Savard for Kagen to follow Obey’s lead and resign from Congress is about the dumbest thing I’ve read today, but the adding on from a number of 8th Congressional campaigns (WisPolitics links to press releases by Trager and Ribble) is just a reminder to Kagen that it’s going to be a tough year for Democrats on the Congressional level.

When you have Dave Obey bailing on re-election, what does it say about Kagen’s chances?

5) Duffy’s the Front-Runner.

That’s pretty much assumed at this moment by everyone, and it will be interesting to see what the various political handicappers (Cook, CQ, Rothenberg) now list WI-07 by the end of the week.  For now, Duffy has the cash, the name exposure, the good mojo, a new baby, and the Democrats are searching for a candidate or two to raise money for.

Not a bad month.

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Obey Polls His District, Doesn’t Release Findings

Interesting little tidbit pointed out by Reid Wilson at the Hotline.

Amid a turbulent political climate, many Dem members of Congress held off polling their districts during the first quarter, hoping to get a more accurate look at the landscape before they begin their ’10 campaigns in earnest.

Pollsters and House Dem leaders have warned incumbents that results they received during the height of the health care debate would not present an accurate picture of the electorate. While benchmark polls are usually taken early in the cycle, FEC reports show most of the Dem caucus took that advice.

Tellingly, those who decided to poll anyway have not released results, suggesting those polls show them performing poorly against their potential or generic GOP rivals.

The list of incumbents who polled their districts includes both vulnerable freshmen, like Reps. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL) and Harry Teague (D-NM), and entrenched incumbents, like Reps. David Obey (D-WI) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND).

None of the half dozen Dems who appear to have polled last quarter released their results. Halvorson, who spent $17.5K at the Dem polling firm Anzalone Liszt on Feb. 10, denied through a spokesman that her campaign had even paid for the poll. It was, the spokesman said, payment for past polling expenses.

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) has spent the most on polling this cycle, blowing through $42K for 2 surveys conducted by Cooper Secrest Associates. Donnelly’s campaign declined to comment on his poll results. Meanwhile, Obey spent $30K for a Feb. poll conducted by Hart Research Associates, the well-regarded Dem firm, and Pomeroy spent another $20K there for a Jan. poll.

Admittedly, a poll done in February on an election year is useless when it comes to the what’s going to happen in November.  But the simple fact Obey has polled this early in the cycle shows he’s clearly worried by the campaign Ashland County DA Sean Duffy has put against him.  It doesn’t indicate Obey’s going to lose; it just showed he’s worried about this fall.

Also explains the tone coming from Democratic Party of Wisconsin in press releases against the Duffy Campaign.  Word of free advice to the Duffy Campaign…ignore Mike Tate.  The guy’s full of it and only wants the reaction out of you.

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