By RYAN J. FOLEY
Associated Press Writer
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republicans were trying Tuesday to capture a majority of Wisconsin’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 14 years.
Hoping to capitalize on a wave of dissatisfaction with the party in power, Republicans want to knock off two incumbent Democrats and win the seat held for 41 years by the retiring Rep. David Obey, a powerful Democrat.
Political newcomer Reid Ribble, a roofing contractor and former high school volleyball coach, was trying to unseat two-term Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen in northeastern Wisconsin’s eighth congressional district.
Ribble, 54, argued his experience running his family’s roofing company would help him know how to boost the economy and cut the deficit in Washington. Kagen, a 60-year-old doctor who founded allergy clinics in the area, was trying to hang on to his seat by arguing his votes for the health care reform law and the stimulus package had helped the district.
Obey, chair of the House appropriations committee, tried to help the Democratic Party retain control of the seat he held since 1969 in the eighth district, which stretches from central to northwestern Wisconsin. When he announced his retirement in May, he threw his support behind Democratic state Sen. Julie Lassa, 40.
Lassa is running against Republican Sean Duffy, a 39-year-old former star on MTV’s “The Real World: Boston,” in a campaign that has drawn intense interest because it is the first competitive one in the district in years. Duffy, the former Ashland County district attorney, has been credited with running a strong campaign that has hammered a theme of fiscal conservatism.
And in a race that appeared to tighten in the final days, seven-term Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse was trying to fend off a challenge from Republican state Sen. Dan Kapanke in western Wisconsin’s third congressional district.
If Republicans can win two of those races, they’ll control five of the eight seats in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Republicans have not held a majority of the delegation since 1996, when they had a 6-3 advantage before losing two seats in that election.