The new lines in Colorado reshaped Rep. Mike Coffmans district from a safe Republican seat to one of the most competitive districts in the country.
Rep. Chip Cravaack is a top Democratic target and one of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country. But Democrats still have to choose a challenger in the Aug. 14 primary. Former Rep. Rick Nolan won the party endorsement at the convention and has the support of Gov. Mark Dayton and Sens. Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, but former state Sen. Tarryl Clark, who lost to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) in 2010, had 10 times the cash on hand as Nolan on June 30.
Even though Nolan hasn’t been in office for more than two decades, he’s still a credible candidate. And there is some concern among Democrats that Clark won’t be able to run up the margins necessary to win in the Iron Range because she’s from Saint Cloud (outside the district) and is not one of them.
The 7th district has two Auroras, not to be confused with a third (population 970) located a few miles south in the 6th district. Rep. Sean Duffy (R) is running for re-election against former state Senate President Pat Kreitlow (D) in a district that President Barack Obama would have carried with 53 percent in 2008.
Florence County’s Aurora, an unincorporated town located in the northeastern corner of the district near the border with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is new to Duffy and is the type of rural area, with farming and timber communities, where he needs to do well. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won Florence County by 14 points four years ago, and President George W. Bush won it by 25 points in 2004.
Taylor County’s Aurora, another small community, is located farther south, near Wausau, a population hub of the 7th district. Bush won Taylor County by almost 20 points in 2004, but McCain carried it by less than 1 point four years ago.
Even though Obama won the district in 2008, Wisconsin has become one of the most polarized states in the country after going through the gubernatorial recall elections. Duffy finished June with more than $1.1 million in the bank compared with $451,000 for Kreitlow, and the Republican’s defeat in November could signal a larger trend in favor of Democrats nationwide.
Correction: Aug. 6, 2012
An earlier version of this article misidentified Steve Hogan's party identification.