Powerful Democratic Congressman Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin announced
his retirement today. The 71-year-old was first elected in 1969, and was known as a liberal stalwart who battled Republicans and pressured his
own party from the left. Announcing his retirement, he called himself "bone tired
." He leaves facing a tough
Republican challenge. What are the political effects?
Trends for House Dems Time's Jay Newton-Small calls
this "a troubling sign for House speaker Nancy Pelosi for whom retention
of the House grows more difficult with each retirement" and "the latest
example of veteran Democrats deciding to withdraw rather than face
- Obey's Tough Race The Minnesota
Independent's Paul Schmelzer writes,
"Obey faced the prospect of a tough election against Republican Sean
Duffy, a former cast member of 'The Real World: Boston' and current
Ashland County district attorney. Duffy had Sarah Palin's backing and,
having amassed almost $300,000 last year, is Obey's best-funded
challenger in more than a decade. This week Tim Pawlenty's Freedom PAC
announced Duffy had won its crowdsourced endorsement."
Dems Keep The Seat? The Wall Street Journal's Susan Davis says, "Democrats
were bullish on their prospects for holding the seat. ... The potential
Democratic field to replace Obey is fluid ... but already names of
potential candidates are emerging and a crowded, contested primary is
possible." Obey's district "has been won by every Democratic statewide
candidate in the past 10 years."
- ...It's 'In Play' NBC News'
Domenico Mantanaro evaluates the situation. "It puts Obey's Wisconsin
seventh-congressional district seat in play for Republicans," he writes.
"Projections for this fall's midterm show Republicans poised to make big
gains in the House, perhaps coming close to or even taking over control
of the House."
- ...GOP Could Win It Conservative blogger John Hinderaker boasts,
"It leans Democratic, but narrowly, having voted for John Kerry (51%)
and Barack Obama (56%). In this season of discontent with the Democratic
Party, a solid Republican candidate should have a good chance of
winning the seat."
- Dems Lose Hard-Charging Liberal
Salon's Alex Pareene says of the
"famously feisty" Congressman, "Obey is one of the most powerful
liberals in Washington. He's been a major critic of the White House's
Afghanistan policy. ... Rahm Emanuel (no stranger to being a complete
dick to people) once said you weren't truly a member of Congress until
Dave Obey rips you a new asshole. ... Obey also coined the classic Bill
Clinton zing: 'If you don't like where he stands, just wait 10
- Didn't Want To Be Minority Party The Weekly
Standard's John McCormack suspects
that Obey "thinks the Democrats will lose the House and he doesn't want
to go back into the minority. I wonder how many of his colleagues are
having similar thoughts right now."
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
mfisher at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.