Dave Obey retirement?
It appears that the 2:30 p.m. press conference today with Congressman Obey will be an announcement that he will not seek re-election:
I have mixed feelings. I’ve known Dave Obey for a long time. He was elected when I was in 7th Grade and now I’m 54. My daughter worked on his campaign staff. (I told her before she started, “Remember: you’re nobody until he screams at you.”) They got along great. He’s my constituent (and not many people can say that, when you think about it.) He’s been a stalwart for his values throughout his career. Firey, ethical, savvy and irascible, you could never accuse Mr. Obey of being one of those politicians who just says what you want to hear. He told you what he had to say and he was about as direct as iron bomb from a B-17 about most things.
He gaveled home his own holy grail of health care reform a few weeks ago and I don’t blame the guy a bit for wanting to spend some time smelling the roses with his wife over the next few years. We don’t get forever on this earth and the prospect of spending those valuable remaining years blowing gaskets on The Hill isn’t really all that attractive. In politics, you can either quit, retire, get beat or die. Retirement is something that you earn and he has earned it in spades.
So what happens next? Well, the 7th U.S. Congressional District is looking at two very contentious races. The first will be this year. The second will be 2012, for whoever happens to end up on the top of the heap in what is sure to be a confusing, wide-open election in which we are still waiting for players to emerge. Whoever wins in 2010 will be on the opposite party’s hit list on the next go-around because that is the way these things work. Does it bode well for Sean Duffy? I’m not sure, because it pretty much wastes a platform that until now was pretty much about “not being Dave Obey.” Well, now nobody is — and nobody will ever be.
Stay tuned. We’re in for a very wild ride between now and November. I’ve already speculated that Christine Bremer-Muggli is a likely Democrat in the race and Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker HAS to be looking at it. There may well be new GOP candidates emerging, too. This changes everything.
While that plays out, I thank Dave Obey for a stellar career that was truly historic by any standard. We will never see anything like him again in these parts in our lifetimes. Some will be grateful for that. I am not.