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Wisconsin - 7th District

Incumbent -- David R. Obey (D) ; Will retire at end of current term (announced May 5, 2010)

Tossup
Race Ratings Key

Updated Oct. 14, 2010

This is the first time this district has been open since Obey was elected in the spring of 1969, and winning this race has been a top priority for both parties.

Former Ashland County prosecutor Sean Duffy, best known nationally for his stint on the MTV reality show "The Real World," announced his candidacy in July 2009, and Obey announced he would step aside in May 2010. Democrats scrambled to find a replacement and came up with state Sen. Julie Lassa.

At the end of August, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeted Duffy's stance on Social Security with its first independent expenditure ad.

Before long Republicans followed with an ad tying Lassa to the federal debt. A campaign ad touted Lassa's farming background, asserting that experience would make her able to stretch a dollar and not take any "bull" in Washington. A Duffy ad related his experience cutting wood as a lumberjack to the skills needed to cut the budget.

Lassa's campaign launched the first opponent-focused ad in September, questioning Duffy's biography as a dedicated prosecutor.

Because of the environment, Duffy probably has the slight edge, but this is a race that could continue to be a jump ball all the way until Election Day.


District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

Wisconsin's 7th, the state's largest and most rural district, stretches north and west from the central counties to the Apostle Islands in the waters of southern Lake Superior. Small towns checker the district.

Farming sustains the economy, although cold weather in the north shaves a full month off the growing season. Dairy farms are the agricultural heart of the district. Centrally located Marathon County leads Wisconsin in dairy production. The nutrient-rich soil in the Central Sands country in the state's midsection produces seed potatoes, cranberries, vegetables and ginseng. Some metalworking and paper factories still produce their goods, although the district has lost blue-collar jobs. Stevens Point and Wausau are local insurance hubs.

The tranquil lifestyle in the small towns appeals to senior citizens, and the 7th's hundreds of lakes in the north are a natural draw for tourists. The University of Wisconsin campuses at Stevens Point and Superior attract young people to Marathon and Douglas counties, while Polk County capitalizes on its proximity to the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Many Hmong immigrants have settled in Marathon County.

Blue-collar regions around Stevens Point and along Lake Superior in the north still back Democrats, but descendants of Scandinavian immigrants and a Christian Right contingent form the Republican base.

Major Industry

Agriculture, paper, manufacturing

Cities

Wausau, 39,106; Superior, 27,244

Notable

The American Birkebeiner, from Cable to Hayward, is North America's largest cross-country ski marathon.

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