House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey has told close associates that he will not seek reelection . . . .
Elected in 1969, the liberal is a major institutional figure who played a leading role in the anti-war and reform movement of the House in the 1970’s. As the Appropriations chairman, he has been a close Pelosi ally who came up through the same panel before moving into the leadership. And his departure follows on the death of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) this winter, a second Pelosi ally and veteran of the powerful committee.
In 2004, John Kerry narrowly carried Obey’s northwest Wisconsin district by just over 5,000 votes. Republicans had already targeted the 20-term incumbent wit the NRCC giving high marks to the fetching Sean Duffy. Now Badger State Democrats will be struggling to come up with a candidate.
And I’m wondering if Obey’s internal polling showed the charismatic Republican giving the outgoing Appropriations Committee chair a run for his money. Jim Geraghty agrees, saying the Pelosi ally “Must have seen something he didn’t like in those polling numbers.”
Speaking of which, who will Duffy face now? Whoever jumps into this race will have significant disadvantages on fundraising, organization, and name recognition. They also will have the albatross of the unpopular Democratic agenda around their neck. While Duffy had an uphill battle to unseat a powerful incumbent, he may now have to guard against overoptimism.