NEWS BLOG (WSAU) David Obey’s retirement presents a challenge for Democrats to come up with a winning candidate on short notice.
The issue is finding a candidate who is known across the 7th congressional district, which stretches north to superior and upper Wisconsin, west to Chippewa County, and south through Wausau and Stevens Point. It’s a tall order to find someone who doesn’t have to introduce themselves to voters with less than 7-months to Election Day.
The ‘do you know me?’ criterion probably eliminates people like State Rep Louis Molepski and Amy Sue Vruwink. They don’t have district-wide profiles.
Attorney Christine Bremmer would be a blank slate to most voters, but she is known in legal circles and from advertising for her law practice. She would have a good chance of raising the money needed to be competitive. She could be an interesting counter-weight to likely GOP opponent Sean Duffy. Her interest in running is unknown.
State Senator Pat Kreitlow is known in the western part of the district from his time as a TV news anchorman. He’s mostly unknown in Central Wisconsin. He’s young and energetic, and has a reputation as a good campaigner.
But the candidate with the best chance of running a competitive campaign is State Senator Russ Decker. His position as majority leader gives him statewide exposure. He would also have a good chance of raising enough money to be competitive. And Decker has good political skills. He has a savvy sense of public opinion. He’s personable and has the look of a candidate who could step up to higher office.
I wonder if Decker wants to be Governor someday. After four more years in the state legislature, he’d be formidable. Others have told me Decker sees himself as a political consultant or lobbyist. That would essentially end his political career, but would be lucrative financially. I’m not sure if he sees himself in Washington DC, or if he’s willing to risk his power-base in Madison to be a freshman congressman on Capital Hill.
Still, Russ Decker might get a call from the White House. It could be Rahm Emanuel on the line: “Russ, your party needs you. Your President needs you. We need you to run.”
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau