Rep. Dave Obey, the powerful chairman of the Appropriations Committee, will be announcing his retirement, multiple news outlets are reporting. Obey (D-WI), has served in the U.S. House since 1969 and he is a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Politico is reporting that Obey will announce his decision today. His office announced a 1 p.m. press conference for a “major announcement.”
The retirement comes as Democrats are facing a potentially bruising fall midterm election cycle where they could lose 20 or more seats, and as Republicans say they believe they have a fighting chance to recapture the House. Obey’s district went for Barack Obama in 2008 by 14 points, but was much closer in 2004 and 2000. John Kerry and Al Gore each won it by one point in those years.We’ve written a bit about this race previously when it looked like Obey would keep his seat. Now, all bets are off as Democrats attempt to find a new candidate late in the game.
Less than an hour before the Obey news broke, Republican candidate Sean Duffy (of Real World: Boston fame) sent out a fundraising email bemoaning Obey’s massive campaign war chest of more than $1.4 million.
“The only way to beat him is create the best grassroots organization that central and northern Wisconsin has ever seen,” Duffy’s campaign manager wrote.