Rep. David Obey (D-WI) became the latest Democrat to announce retirement this week, surprising many of his colleagues by deciding that 42 years in the House is enough. Not that he admits to being nervous about his prospects in November: “I’ve won 25 straight elections,” he boasted. “Does anyone really believe I wouldn’t have won again?” Actually, yes, his seat was in play with a strong challenge from Republican Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy.
Duffy thinks he has a chance because “Obey never comes back to the district. And he’s the author of the failed economic stimulus plan. This election is going to be about debt and runaway spending.” Of course, Obey is proud of his “accomplishment” with the stimulus. “My only apology is that it should have been larger,” he said, “but it was the most that the system would bear at the time.” Obey was also a key player in the passage of ObamaCare and thus has become a symbol of Washington’s out-of-control spending. Indeed, no member of Congress is more to blame for the colossal increase in federal spending than the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Obey’s district hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, but it could be difficult for Democrats to recruit a viable contender this late in the game. His retirement is yet another signal of the tough sledding Democrats face in November.