Constituents React to Rep. Obey's Retirement

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

Whether you agree or disagree with his politics, Congressman Dave Obey will leave a legacy after his retirement this November.

The leading liberal has been on the U.S. House of Representatives for 41 years and serves as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Thursday, the 71-year-old announced he will not seek re-election.

Though some are happy and some are sad, most are surprised to learn the democrat who's held the 7th Congressional District seat since 1969 is making room for fresh blood.

"I was shocked. He's been a congressman as long as I can remember, as long as I've been alive," said Becky Rogalla, 29, of Hatley.

John Coleman, 69, of Rothschild agrees, but he's thrilled the congressman will soon be out the door.

"I was surprised, but I'm glad to see he's leaving."

Eric Giordano, the director of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy, and assistant political science professor at UW-Marathon County, was also surprised at Obey's announcement.

"I think this was something that I didn't expect, everything that he's said in the last several months indicated he would run again," he said.

The news comes at an interesting time, just a few months before the fall election.

Now Wisconsin democrats must decide who will be the best to replace the political powerhouse, while republicans continue to campaign, hoping this means an easier victory for them.

The last few years Obey has faced tough issues: the economy, health care and the war. Still, he won't be forgotten.

"I really think his legacy will be as working in the progressive tradition of Wisconsin politics...he styled himself early on as a man of the people," Giordano said.

To run for the seat, candidates must file papers with the state by July 13th.

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