[Update at 6:01pm]: Charlie Cook has now moved this race from ‘Likely Democratic’ to ‘Toss Up’.
Here’s an excerpt of his analysis:
In the current political environment, any heavily working-class seat that falls close to the national partisan average (PVI D+3) isn’t the type of open seat Congressional Democrats want to defend.
…The current enthusiasm gap between the parties and the competitiveness of this district at the national level warrant moving WI-07 from the Likely Democratic column to the Toss Up column.
This is a huge blow for Democrats. Huge.
From Fox News:
Obey Won’t Run For 22nd Term in House, Says He’s ‘Bone Tired’
WASHINGTON — Rep. David Obey, a leading liberal Democrat and chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, said Wednesday that he will retire at the end of his term this year, dealing Democrats defending their majority another blow in an election season of voter discontent.
“There is a time to stay and a time to go,” the Wisconsin lawmaker told reporters. “And this is my time to go.”
Obey, 71, among a handful of veteran House Democrats who had been bracing for competitive races this fall, has routinely won re-election. In 2008 he did so with 61 percent of the vote.
Michael Barone has more in his 29th installment of “Democrats Exiting the Sinking Ship”:
This is pretty shocking news. Obey is one of the most senior members of the House.
This year he attracted an active Republican opponent, Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy, and his district is not as overwhelmingly Democratic as those of most House Democratic leaders; it voted 56%-42% for Barack Obama in 2008.
Obey had close races in the Republican years of 1994 and 1996, and perhaps he didn’t relish another tough race (Duffy comes from the most Democratic part of the district, along Lake Superior) in the year he turns 72. Or perhaps he feels that in fashioning the 2009 stimulus package which expanded government and providing strong support for the 2010 health care bill he has accomplished most of his goals and can leave the House—and end a political career which has lasted just about all his adult life—with a sense of satisfaction.
The New York Times felt compelled to write a piece about the danger he’s in this year; if the guys at the NRCC were any higher on Sean Duffy they would be writing his name in their notebooks with little hearts and swirly marks around it.
Sean Duffy’s web site (which is pretty snazzy) is here.