Saturday, May 07, 2011

Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District and the impact of Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare

I am not going to say that GOP rock star
Paul Ryan could be in any real trouble holding onto his Congressional seat, Wisconsin's 1st, in the 2012 election. He's been winning the thing pretty handily since he first ran in 1998. He didn't even really break a sweat in 2008 when Obama was taking the country by storm, winning against Democratic challenger Marge Krupp by a 64%-34% margin.

It is worth noting, though, that the Wisconsin 1st has been a swing district in presidential elections having gone to George W. Bush with 53% of the vote in 2004 and then to Obama in 2008 with 51.4%. From 1971 to 1995 the Democrats held the seat, most of the time with Les Aspin (1971-1993) and for a couple of years with Peter Barca (1993-1995), before Mark Neumann won and help it for the GOP from 1995 to 1999 and then came Ryan. So, a little back-and-forthing there and as recently as 2008 a narrow win by Obama for the Dems.

Everyone knows it's difficult to unseat incumbents and Mr. Ryan has made a bit of a name for himself, but, as we know, more recently, the news has not been all good. When supposedly safe members are taken down it is not uncommon for it to be the result of a specific and voter energizing issue - like privatizing Medicare. And let us remember that Paul Ryan is not just a member of a party thinking about doing that; he's the prime architect.

Just for a moment, let's turn our attention to what's going on in the special election in the New York 26th Congressional district to be held May 24th. This is the seat vacated by Republican Chris Lee in February, the man who couldn't seem to keep his shirt on (long story). This should be a safe seat for Republicans but for the fact that a Tea Party challenger, Jack Davis, is threatening to take votes away from the Republican nominee, Jane Corwin, and perhaps let the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, come up the middle. The latest poll from Sienna College has Corwin at 36%, Hochul at 31% and Davis 23% with local media reporting that the race is tightening. The interesting part is that 59% of those polled don't approve of the changes to Medicare that Ryan is spearheading.

I'm not saying there is going to be a Tea Party challenger in the Wisconsin 1st, unless something really weird happens like Ryan aggressively rejecting his own budget plan. No, I'm just saying this is a great issue for a prospective challenger and Ryan represents a district that doesn't mind voting for the Democrats every now and again, especially if there is a signature issue to motivate them and if a charismatic president is running for reelection on the Democratic line.

I am quite open to being told that there are all sorts of local reasons why this could never, ever, under any circumstances, happen. At the very least, it seems worth a conversation.

(Cross-posted to Lippmann's Ghost.)

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  • There just may be a viable alternative now with Rob Zerban who is running against Ryan.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:00 PM  

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