News is breaking from several sources that Rep. David Obey is planning to announce his retirement at a 1 p.m. press conference. A testament to how rough this cycle will be on incumbent Democrats, Obey has represented his district in Congress since 1969. He was elected two years before his Republican challenger Sean Duffy was born.
Just last week, the New York Times declared Obey's money advantage over Duffy "emblematic of a bright spot" for Democrats this cycle.
The Hotline reported that Democratic turn-out in Indiana, Ohio, and North Carolina primaries was way down over comparable elections while Republican turn-out was up across the board.
By contrast, GOP turnout was up almost across the board. 373K people voted in Burr's uncompetitive primary, nearly 9% higher than the 343K who voted in the equally non-competitive primary in '04. Turnout in House races in IN rose 14.6% from '06, fueled by the competitive Senate primary, which attracted 550K voters. And 728K voters cast ballots for a GOP Sec/State nominee in Ohio, the highest-ranking statewide election with a primary; in '06, just 444K voters cast ballots in that race.
If those numbers spooked Obey, just think about what the 41-year House veteran's retirement might do to fellow Democrats still facing filing deadlines. There are 20 deadlines looming.
Duffy is a 38-year-old champion competitive lumberjack known by many for his stint on the 1997 Boston season of MTV's "The Real World." He would be the first "Real World" cast member to have successfully made the leap to Congress, but he's the second to run for national office.
Kevin Powell of "The Real World's" first season unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) in 2008's Democratic primary, and is running against him again this year.
Duffy is the father of six children with his wife Rachel Campos, alumna of "Real World: San Francisco" who also vied for Elisabeth Hasselbeck's slot on "The View." They met on an MTV spin-off show, "Road Rules: All Stars." I'm not kidding, and I have followed the couple since the beginning due to my abiding affection for rare, Republican pop culture figures. He's now serving his fourth term as Ashland County, Wisc. D.A., and has proven to be a smart, aggressive, tech-savvy opponent for Obey. It ought to be interesting to watch him moving forward.
Who would have thought the first "Real World" cast member in Congress might be a Republican?
Wisconsin's filing deadline is July 13, so Democrats have until then to make their move.