NEWS BLOG (WSAU) For a politician the sweet spot is when you are so popular, or so politically entrenched, you can say whatever you want and still win reelection. That was the mode David Obey was in last week when he announced his retirement. He said a lot of things that would have made getting reelected harder if he was running.
Take just one example: Obey unapologetically supported the stimulus plan that he helped to write. It is now politically unpopular, having failed to create jobs and adding to the deficit. Obey said his only regret was that it wasn’t larger.
Other politicians would have difficulty defending that position, even if it’s what they really thought. Certainly someone running to be a freshman politician wouldn’t want that kind of distraction. State Senator Julie Lassa, who is a savvy campaigner, said she will not be making appearances with Dave Obey. “Candidates need to stand on their own,” she said during a WSAU news interview.
Obey successfully cobbled together a two-prong constituency. He was a champion of the liberal left. He also got tremendous support from senior citizens – both Republicans and Democrats – as a staunch defender of social security and Medicare. The liberal vote is not in-play if Lassa is the Democrats candidate, but the senior citizens are. They could just as easily tilt to the GOP if that candidate makes a credible fiscal-responsibility argument.
If Lassa believes candidates need to stand on their own, will she accept Obey’s campaign cash? He has $1.4-million on hand. He can give it to any candidate he wants. It will be interesting to see what Lassa does. Without some of that money, she’s at a disadvantage. With it, she’s made her first mis-statement in a campaign that’s only a few days old. She might be making the political calculation that Obey’s money is more valuable than his personal appearances… and she’s right.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau