Former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow (D) has announced plans to challenge GOP freshman Rep. Sean Duffy in Wisconsin’s 7th district, a seat Democrats view as a top pickup opportunity in 2012.
“I started exploring the possibility of a Congressional campaign after the new Republican majority began to show it had no interest in keeping its promise to focus on job creation and economic recovery back home,” Kreitlow said in a statement. “The last straw for me was Sean Duffy’s vote to blow up Medicare, a promise we make to every middle class American that says decades of hard work will be rewarded with a retirement filled with the chance to stay healthy. ... This is no time for a Congressman to be so severely disconnected to what northwest Wisconsin needs from our representative to Washington.”
Kreitlow, a former television news anchor, flirted with a Congressional run last cycle, when Rep. David Obey’s (D) retirement left the seat open. But Kreitlow opted against a bid for federal office, backing state Sen. Julie Lassa (D) instead. He lost his state Senate re-election contest, however, among a host of Democratic state Senators ousted in the Republican wave. Democrats have since launched a massive state Senate recall effort. They have collected enough petitions so far for five recall elections and need to flip just three seats to retain control.
Duffy defeated Lassa by 8 points in a district that leans Democratic. In fact, the 7th district was one of just 14 in the nation currently held by a Republican but carried by Democratic presidential nominees in the last two cycles. The district lines could shift in redistricting, but it is not considered one likely to see significant change.
Democrats hope to use some of the energy from the state’s high-profile union battles to their advantage.
“Just as my former state Senate colleagues took the lead in standing up to the anti-worker agenda of Scott Walker in Madison, I’m ready to fight on the Washington front to turn back this new war on the middle class,” Kreitlow continued.
And Democrats are quick to note that Duffy has struggled through negative press early in his first term. He made headlines, for example, after suggesting that he was struggling to make ends meet on his $174,000 annual salary. That’s almost three times the median income in Wisconsin.
But National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said: “Voters in Wisconsin have already rejected liberal Pat Kreitlow’s tax-and-spend agenda that forced Wisconsin businesses and jobs to leave the state. Wisconsin’s working families couldn’t afford to have Kreitlow in Madison and they certainly can’t afford to send him to Washington.”
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.