Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

We Wuz Right On Obey

Back in May, I expressed some skepticism at Congressman Dave Obey’s stated reason for retiring from the House of Representatives after 41 years of service.  Obey said he was “bone tired,” and that he decided long ago to retire after the big health care bill passed.

The media lapped this all up, running with the “old liberal lion retires on his own terms” talking point.  But as I pointed out, this all didn’t add up, as Obey continued to raise money and conduct polls well after the health care bill passed.  At the time, I mentioned that Obey’s next finance report would truly be telling.

Well, we have it – and it confirms my suspicions.  According to’s “DC Wrap:”

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.

That $30,000 he spent was on top of another $30,000 he spent in the previous reporting period.  So you’re telling me Dave Obey, having already decided he was going to retire, spent $60,000 in polls for no reason?  What kinds of questions was Obey asking people in this $30,000 poll if it had NO bearing on whether he retired?

  • “In a head to head matchup: Team Edward or Team Jacob?”
  • All things being equal, who can do more push-ups: President Obama or the Green Lantern?
  • “Got any good salmon recipes?”
  • “Do you think your neighbor smells like Indian food?
  • “Would it creep you out if you knew I was conducting this poll in my bathrobe?”

Of course, Obey’s retirement is no longer newsworthy, and nobody’s going to report anything that makes them look like fools in retrospect.  But let the history books show – the voters decided they didn’t want Dave Obey – not the other way around.


  1. hactually, if Obey did some polling and saw that he didn’t want to deal with finicky voters who might require effort to sway, it was his decision to avoid such hard-to-please constituents. If the voters rejected him, that would have come in November. Isn’t it at least somewhat significant that Obey was in the House before Sean Duffy (a 40 year old man) was concieved?

  2. To stop running your campaign before you’ve decided to retire is in fact to decide to retire. You may be right, but the facts are also consistent with Obey’s stated reasons. You’re both in politics, so I don’t trust either of you to tell a straight story. But, if it makes you feel better, you can keep patting yourself on the back.

  3. Amen, brother.

    Dave Obey didn’t quit because he needed to take a nap, he quit because he didn’t want to work as hard as was necessary to try to keep his seat.

  4. Could Obey have been polling to determine a possible successor? Say a Lassa v. Kreitlow v. someone else matchup?

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