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Wausau Dem Congressman Obey Retires

Congressman David Obey at a news conference in Washington DC
Congressman David Obey at a news conference in Washington DC

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s longest-serving U.S. House member is calling it a career. Wausau Democrat David Obey announcing he won't seek re-election. As the House appropriations chairman, the 71-year-old Obey played a key role in developing the federal economic stimulus package – which critics say has created many fewer private sector jobs than anticipated.

He faced a possibly-difficult re-election challenge this fall, but the media reports said Obey’s retirement is still a surprise. He replaced former Congressman and Defense Secretary Melvin Laird in 1969, he was re-elected 20 times since. Republican Dan Mielke of Rudolph got 39 percent of the vote against Obey 2 years ago. And almost as soon as Obey started his new term, Mielke announced he would run again.

The Wood County farmer faces a strong GOP primary challenge from Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy – a former star of MTV’s “The Real World.” Earlier this year, Duffy got a huge boost when he was endorsed by former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Obey is the highest-ranking House Democrat to retire. He’s the chamber’s 4th longest-serving Democrat.