David Rogers at Politico:
Bone-tired and facing a tough political landscape at home, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey announced Wednesday that he won’t seek reelection, ending a 41-year House career stamped by his unique talent and tempestuousness.
Rarely does a committee chairman of such power just walk away, and Obey’s decision is a blow to Democrats and marks the passing of one of the last major leaders of the 1970’s reforms that reshaped the modern House.
“I am ready to turn the page, and frankly, I think that my district is ready for someone new to make a fresh start,” Obey said in an afternoon press conference in his committee’s meeting room.
Despite poor poll numbers at home, he insisted that he could win reelection in November but admitted he feared another reapportionment fight in the next Congress and a shift in the public mood against the aggressive public investments which have been his trademark.
“I do not want to be in the position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee of producing and defending lowest common denominator legislation that is inadequate to that task,” Obey said, “And given the mood of the country, that is what I would have to do if I stayed.”
The Wisconsin Democrat was facing some pretty ugly poll numbers back home, but his staff had insisted he would be running for another term. Obey, a liberal powerhouse, was first elected in 1969 and has been in big anti-war figure since the 1970s. Obey was also a big ally of Nancy Pelosi’s and, as Politico points out, following the death of Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., earlier this year, Obey will be Pelosi’s second big loss on the powerful Appropriations Committee.
Alex Pappas at The Daily Caller:
Wisconsin Rep. Dave Obey will not seek reelection, a huge break for Republicans and Sean Duffy, the insurgent GOP candidate of “Real World Boston” fame who’s challenging Obey for the seat.
The Wisconsin congressman is chairman of the House appropriations committee, and his absence from the race certainly makes the seat much more competitive for the GOP.
“People are yearning for different representation,” Duffy, 38, said during a conference call with reporters. “And now they’re gonna get it.”
Asked if he thought his campaign is responsible for Obey’s withdrawal from the race, he said, “If I was to guess, I’d guess that was one of the considerations.”
Duffy said the campaign will “still be focused on the same issues,” like balancing the budget and reducing the country’s $13 million debt.
Duffy serves as Ashland Count district attorney and wasn’t yet born when Obey took office in 1969. His campaign thus far has been about ousting Obey, a congressman who has been in office for too long and who, being chair of the appropriations committee, was a chief author of the stimulus bill.
I’ve talked to Duffy several times and been so impressed — and so convinced that this was the sort of race that would determine this was a good or a watershed year for Republicans — that I dubbed him the No. 3 conservative to watch this year. He made an early bet against the stimulus package, coming out hard for repeal and blaming Obey, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, for not writing a more stimulative bill. When I asked him whether he thought government spending could dig us out of the recession, here was his response:
Dave Obey believes that, but give me an example of when that’s worked. I haven’t seen where that’s worked. If it did, that would be the economic plan for countries all around the world.Talk like that attracted the attention of conservatives who helped Duffy raise about $500,000 — less than half as much as Obey, but for a campaign that explicitly promised to replace a power-broker who could bring money to the district with a small government conservative who would be totally disinterested in pork. You’ll hear people credit the endorsements of Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty for Duffy’s success, but that gets the story backward.
Meanwhile, ponder David Obey’s decision. Obey got so caught up in Obama’s statism, he cued up the dark music and did a provocative fan dance as the presiding officer in the House during final passage of Obamacare. But voters were watching. Now, he can’t shed his skin for something akin to the small government, low tax number so in fashion with voters this year.
Updated: Representative David Obey of Wisconsin, chairman of the Appropriations Committee and one of the most powerful and longest-serving Democrats in Congress, announced today that he will not seek re-election and will step down after 41 years.
While it may have taken them a while to get through the case file, the better positioned GOP did manage to mostly break the Tea Party code. That’s why a closer look inside the numbers via the RNC’s Doug Heye shows GOP turnout numbers are surging, providing an important part of the plot. Irony, one of Lecter’s early quotes to Clarice mentioned “First principles.” And while it was a census taker, not necessarily a Democrat, Lecter enjoyed with “some favabeans and a nice chianti,” as things stand today, Conservatives and Republicans may want to have a bottle of sometime special handy come November to celebrate the devouring of big government liberal Democrats in the House and Senate in November. Cue 13 seconds of Sir Anthony Hopkins ff-ff-ff-ff-ff. heh!