Retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Obey paid more than $30,000 on polling just eight days before announcing his retirement, according to the longtime congressman's latest filing with the FEC.
Obey announced his retirement May 5 after more than four decades in the House, saying he wanted to see health care reform passed and was simply “bone tired." But insiders in both parties questioned the abrupt announcement during a tough election year, and Republicans suggested he may not have wanted to fight against a GOP tide and then-Ashland Co. DA Sean Duffy.
The Wausau Democrat brushed off such talk, saying he's never walked away from a fight in his life. But his recent campaign finance report shows payment to D.C.-based Hart Research Associates for polling on April 27 -- the largest expenditure of his more than $126,000 in reported disbursements in the second quarter.
Obey also reported taking in $28,000 in his latest campaign finance report while refunding $164,000 in campaign contributions. He led the delegation in fundraising during the first quarter of 2010 and piled up a $1.4 million in cash on hand at the end of March. His impressive warchest has been the subject of speculation since his retirement announcement. Obey listed $984,000 remaining in his account at the end of the second quarter, and could use much of that total to bolster other Dem campaigns this fall including that of favored successor, Stevens Point-area Sen. Julie Lassa.
Here's a rundown of the candidates vying for Obey's seat and the rest of the state's congressional districts:
*1st District: U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan had almost $2.2 million cash on hand after raising $706,000 during the second quarter. Ryan, R-Janesville, reported spending $283,000 over the three-month period. Ryan is set to face 1st CD Democratic Party Treasurer John Heckenlively, who filed for the race last week and is awaiting word from the GAB on his ballot status, along with independent Bill Tucker and Libertarian Joe Kexel.
*2nd District: U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, reports raising more than $165,000 during the second quarter and had more than $783,000 cash on hand as of June 30. Baldwin spent more than $86,000 during the period. Republican Chad Lee of Mt. Horeb reported raising just more than $4,000 in his bid to unseat Baldwin, with nearly $2,500 is disbursements and nearly $3,000 on hand at the close of the period. He lists a campaign debt of more than $5,300. Baldwin's other GOP opponent, Peter Theron of Madison, reported $1,200 raised, $1,500 spent and a warchest of $3,100; Theron's campaign debt is $1,200
*3rd District: U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, raised $195,000 and spent $122,000 in the quarter toward a final warchest of $1.3 million. GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke, also of La Crosse, outraised his Dem rival, taking in $244,000 during the quarter and reporting $342,000 cash on hand. His fundraising came entirely from individuals except for a candidate loan of $4,600. He spent $115,000 during the period, more than $20,000 of which went for direct mail. Republican Bruce Evers of Holmen filed supplemental signatures last week in his bid to take on Kapanke in the primary. Mike Krsiean of Houlton is running as an independent.
*4th District: U.S. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, reported $89,000 raised toward a warchest of $108,000. Moore's expenditures totaled less than $55,000. Two Milwaukee Republicans, Dan Sebring and Kenneth Lipinksy, have filed reports toward their candidacies in the heavily Dem 4th. Sebring raised $5,300, spent nearly the same amount and had $1,300 on hand. Lipinsky has raised $3,600 -- mostly self-funded and from family members -- while spending $1,300. He had a $2,300 warchest. Independent candidate Eddie Ahmad Ayyash and Dem Paul Morel have also filed with the state to run.
*5th District: GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner raised nearly $38,000 during the quarter. The longtime Menomonee Falls congressman spent more than $39,000; his warchest on June 30 was $425,000. Sensenbrenner's Dem opponent, Menomonee Falls small businessman Todd Kolosso, reported raising $3,700 during the period but loaned his own campaign more than $56,000. He spent more than $65,000 over the quarter. Kolosso listed more than $28,000 cash on hand at the end of June. Independent Robert Raymond of Shorewood has also filed signatures to run on the fall ballot.
*6th District: GOP U.S. Rep. Tom Petri pushed his warchest to $924,000 after raising $144,000 during the quarter. Petri spent $167,018 over the period, $100,000 of which came in a transfer to the NRCC. The longtime Fond du Lac Republican congressman will face late-emerging challenger Dem Joseph Kallas of Princeton.
*7th District: In the state's lone open seat this cycle, Dem state Sen. Julie Lassa reported raising $313,000 in the six weeks since she entered the race to replace U.S. Rep. Obey. She spent less than $9,000 over the same period, and had a warchest of $304,000. The favored Republican in the race, former Ashland Co. DA Sean Duffy, raised $465,000 in the quarter, bringing his warchest to $681,000. Duffy's primary rival, Rudolph farmer Dan Mielke, raised a reported $24,000, $20,000 of which came through an in-kind donation of printed material from the candidate. He declared most of his $25,000 in disbursements through the same printing materials. Mielke reported less than $1,500 cash on hand. Democrat Don Raihala of Superior filed late last week in the 7th CD as well, setting up a primary with Lassa.
*8th District: U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, the most targeted incumbent in the state's congressional delegation, raised $232,000 over the period. The Appleton Dem spent $126,000 and reported $841,000 on hand. Four Republicans combined to raised $333,000 this quarter in their efforts to take on Kagen, including: -- Reid Ribble, formerly a Kaukauna roofing contractor, who raised $152,000, spent $93,000 and had a warchest of $178,000. -- State Rep. Roger Roth of Appleton, who raised nearly $60,000 during the period and had $87,000 cash on hand. Roth spent just over $60,000 during the quarter. -- Terri McCormick, who formerly held Roth's seat in the Legislature and is making her second bid for the 8th CD. She reported $111,000 raised and $99,000 cash on hand after spending $30,000 during the quarter. -- Door Co. Supervisor Marc Savard, a self-described "Tea Party" candidate who has raised $10,000 and finished with a cash balance of $4,500.