As I've noted on numerous occasions, we've got some good races this year in Wisconsin. In addition to the governor's and senate race, the two Congressional contests Up North should provide some excitement for election observers all over the country. Today I'll concentrate on the 8th district race, between Rep. Steve Kagen (D) and whoever gets the GOP nomination, which is being fought over by three viable candidates.
The three candidates are State Rep. Roger Roth, former State Rep. Terri McCormick and businessman Reid Ribble. In June, another candidate, Marc Trager, withdrew from the race and later committed suicide.
A source close to one of the GOP campaigns has told me that Roth and McCormick are the favorites, according to internal polling. However, Ribble leads the pack in fundraising by far, and he just released a TV ad today, touting his conservative credentials and railing against career politicians.
Roth benefits from the name recognition he has earned in the past four years as a legislator in the area, as well as that he has inherited from his uncle, Toby Roth, he represented the district in Congress from 1979 until 1997. He is also a veteran of the Iraq War. However, he lags behind his rivals in fundraising.
McCormick is a libertarian-leaning Republican who represented parts of the area in the Assembly from 2000 to 2007, and has run for the Congressional seat before. Hence, she has a fair bit of name-recognition as well. She is a libertarian-leaning Republican, who supports auditing the fed, repealing the Patriot Act and advocates a gradual military withdrawal from Afghanistan. She is not very socially libertarian, however, as displayed by her campaign against birth control on college campuses. As of three weeks ago, she had $111,000 on hand.
Whoever wins, does he/she have a shot at taking down Kagen? The conventional wisdom says yes. Kagen has been seen as a vulnerable Dem ever since he won election in 2006 -- a Democratic wave year in which Kagen was elected with 51 percent of the vote. In 2008, another huge Democratic year, in which Obama won by double-digit margins in long-time GOP strongholds in the Fox Valley (Outagamie, Brown Winnebago), Kagen won 54 percent.
One Republican insider told me that the amount of money the GOP poured into the race in 2008, to no avail, suggests that Kagen has solidified his base of support, despite the conservative leanings of the district, and will be very hard to beat.
That could be, but Kagen has yet to run in an anti-Democratic election. If the Democrats lose the House, then it will be precisely because members like Kagen lose.
I believe there is a very good chance Steve Kagen will lose re-election.
An interesting development would be the nomination of McCormick. In such a scenario, both the Republican and Democratic candidates would be skeptics of the war in Afghanistan. Despite this, I think McCormick would be the weakest of the GOP candidates. She is the most likely to have made/make controversial statements about Social Security or Medicare in a district with many senior voters. It would be easy to paint her as an extremist.
Roth v. Ribble? Who knows. Not me. Any thoughts from the best readers in the world?