The NRCC plans to make ad buys in six new districts beginning next week, including the Wisconsin 8th in the race between Rep. Steve Kagen (D) and Reid Ribble (R). The GOP is targeting vulnerable Democratic incumbents as well as open-seat races, some of which were not seen as promising pick-up opportunities until just recently.
This year, WI-8 is a prime target for the GOP. Kagen was swept into office as part of the Democratic wave in 2006, and narrowly won again in 2008, the first Democrat to win reelection in the history of the district.
WI-8 has a Cook PVI of R+2, even though it voted 54 percent for Obama in 2008. George W. Bush beat John Kerry by 11 points in 2004. Kagen has been a reliable vote for the Democratic leadership, which has soured his reputation among voters. He not only voted for Obamacare, he bragged about helping to write the bill. In fact, the NRCC began targeting Kagen last year with this ad:
A GOP sponsored poll in August showed Kagen trailing Republican challenger Reid Ribble by 10 points, 49-39. This was before Ribble won the party nomination in a three-way primary. Kagen does hold a huge financial edge over Ribble. As of August 25, Kagen had $777,000 in the bank compared to a dismal $70,000 for Ribble, who spent heavily during the GOP primary. Expect to see the NRCC to step up its involvement and try to close that gap in the coming weeks.