Why would one of the most powerful men in Congress, elected in 1968, in a district that went for the Obama-Biden ticket, bail out of reelection? Republicans point to the campaign of Sean Duffy, a telegenic (literally) district attorney who raised a lot of money, built a following among national conservatives and, according to everything I'm hearing, was giving Obey a real battle in his internal polls.
I've talked to Duffy several times and been so impressed...
Talk like that attracted the attention of conservatives who helped Duffy raise about $500,000 -- less than half as much as Obey, but for a campaign that explicitly promised to replace a power-broker who could bring money to the district with a small government conservative who would be totally disinterested in pork. You'll hear people credit the endorsements of Sarah Palin and Tim Pawlenty for Duffy's success, but that gets the story backward.You may remember that we were talking about the Obey/Duffy face-off a few days ago, in the context of the problem of Republicans having a big advantage looking toward November but needing real candidates. Duffy is real. (And he was on "The Real World.")
ADDED: I was just reading Obey's bio on Wikipedia. It's surprisingly short — considering that he's been in Congress since 1969. (He replaced Melvin Laird, who became Nixon's Secretary of Defense.) Under "Controversies," there's only one item. If you're going to have exactly one controversy, it might as well be this:
On June 25, 2009, Obey got into a fight on the House floor with fellow Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California.LOL at the dumb Wikipedia writing (which makes Obey a woman). Let's switch to the Roll Call text...
House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) engaged in a shoving match on the House floor early Thursday evening that ended with Obey raising his voice and bellowing, “I’m not going to approve that earmark!”"You are out of line!" "You are out of line" "He touched me first, he pushed me first!" Ha. How did I miss that story last summer? Let's see what I was blogging on June 25, 2009. There were a bunch of new Supreme Court cases to digest. Farrah Fawcett died. And then Michael Jackson died. So the Waters/Obey catfight didn't get an audience. Farrah and Michael and death beats Dave and Maxine and pseudo-shoving any day.
Waters has been seeking $1 million for an employment center in her district that bears her name, but Obey has decided to ban any “monuments to me” when it comes to funding project requests this year.
The confrontation began with the two talking in each other’s faces and gesturing animatedly with their hands. Obey then attempted to walk away, but Waters kept following him. Obey then put his hand on Waters arm and shoulder, and Waters became irate.
Obey again turned away, dismissing Waters by throwing up his hands, but Waters continued to stalk him, talking to his back and making a shoving motion.
Waters followed Obey down to the well of the House, and as the confrontation — and shoves — continued, Obey turned and told her: “You are out of line.”
To which Waters retorted: “You are out of line.”
“I am not going to approve that earmark!” Obey exclaimed, then hustled away from Waters.
Waters then retreated to a group of fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus, but her conversation could be heard from the press gallery.
“He touched me first, he pushed me first!” she said. She then left the House floor, while Obey sat down to talk with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).