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Ribble Retirement Creates Vulnerable GOP Open Seat

With Ribble, right, out of the picture, there will be renewed Democratic interest in his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
With Ribble, right, out of the picture, there will be renewed Democratic interest in his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three-term Wisconsin Rep. Reid Ribble’s retirement leaves Republicans with yet another competitive open seat to defend.  

Based on the 2008 presidential results, the 8th District looks like a great Democratic takeover opportunity. President Barack Obama carried the northeastern Wisconsin district, which includes Green Bay and Appleton, by 9 points and Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen was re-elected that same year by a similar margin.  

But Ribble defeated Kagen 55-45 percent in 2010. Two years later , Mitt Romney carried the district by 4 points in the presidential election and former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson won it by 3 points, even though both men lost statewide by sizable margins.The congressman was re-elected last cycle with 65 percent in a race Democrats didn’t focus on taking back.  

Now that the seat is open, there will be renewed interested on the Democratic side. But they’ll likely need to find a candidate who can appeal to conservative Catholic voters.  

There will be plenty of interested on the Republican side, including at least one candidate who is not an elected official. The filing deadline to run for Congress in Wisconsin is June 1.  

The race is just beginning, but we’re changing The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rating from Safe Republican to Republican Favored.  

Ribble becomes yet another member of the Republican class that was elected in the 2010 wave year to retire from Congress without seeking another office. Virginia Reps. Scott Rigell and Robert Hurt, New York Reps. Richard Hanna and Chris Gibson, Michael G. Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Rich Nugent of Florida, Dan Benishek of Michigan, and now Ribble.  

Overall, Ribble is the 21st member to announce his or her retirement this cycle, bringing this Congress close to the historical average . From 1976 to 2014, 22 House members, on average, retired. Last cycle, 24 members retired without seeking another office.


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