Pundits at CQ Politics and The New York Times both list this race as a toss-up. Incumbent Steven Kagen has an even tougher race to fight this time around in his Republican-leaning district, as he doesn’t have positive approval ratings for his own party to bolster him. He’s a strong fundraiser, though, and that gave him the edge in both his previous elections. Republican Reid Ribble is looking to capitalize on unpopular Democratic platforms and the natural lean of his district to unseat Kagen.
Candidates for Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District (two-year term)
(This district includes parts of 13 counties, including Menominee, Brown, Oneida and Door, and the cities of Green Bay and Appleton. See a boundary map here.)
Candidate: Dr. Steven Kagen
Political experience: Kagen was first elected to represent Wisconsin’s 8th District in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006, and he won re-election in 2008.
Professional experience: A physician, Kagen is triple Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology. He became an allergist and founded four clinics in Appleton, Green Bay, Fond du Lac and Oshkosh. He was also an allergy consultant to CNN News.
Key issues: According to his website, Kagen is a proponent of the federal health care reform, and he wants to expand it by enforcing greater transparency in pricing to encourage lower costs. He is focused on energy independence as both solid economic and national security policy, and he wants to see America develop its own resources to lower costs. He wants to implement new initiatives focusing on the growth of small business to foster job creation in Wisconsin.
Endorsements: Kagen is endorsed by the National Education Association, the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, among others.
Chances of maintaining his seat: The race is considered a toss-up, and Kagen is fighting to retain his seat in a Republican district against poor perception of recent Democratic initiatives. Kagen is a moderate, however, and he can speak to both sides on certain issues, like the environment and business.
Candidate: Reid Ribble
Political experience: If Ribble is successful in this race, it will be his first political office.
Professional experience: Ribble joined his family’s roofing company in 1976, becoming its president in 1981. He currently owns Ribble Group Inc, a roof construction and consulting company.
Key issues: According to his website, Ribble is focused on creating jobs through small-business initiatives like tax credits and reductions. He wants to increase competition on every level of health care to help lower costs. On immigration, he would like to increase border controls and reform the legal immigration process for all.
Endorsements: Ribble is endorsed by the National Electrical Contractors Association, the Fox Valley Initiative and Restore America’s Legacy, among others.
Chances of unseating Steven Kagen: His outlook is fair to good. This is a Republican-leaning district, and Ribble is a strong candidate. He needs to continue to use unpopular Democratic platforms to his advantage and convince voters he has the right answers in order to tip this race in his direction. At the moment, however, it remains a toss-up.
Key Differences between Steven Kagen and Reid Ribble
Jobs: Both men are business owners, and they are focused on small business as a force for job creation. Kagen wants to reform trade and import policy to favor American businesses, while Ribble wants to implement tax cuts for businesses and ease regulatory measures that he feels make American businesses less competitive.
Health care: Kagen supports the federal health care reform and wants to implement transparency in health care pricing to lower costs. Ribble wants to make health care an individual — not job-related — choice, and he favors tax credits and incentives to make health care more affordable.
Energy policy: Kagen wants Americans to move toward energy independence, and he supports developing American resources and alternative energies to lower energy costs for Americans. Ribble would like to see the United States embrace coal and nuclear options and take advantage of natural gas resources.
Wisconsin’s 8th U.S. Congressional District
Location: The Wisconsin 8th District is located in northeastern Wisconsin, bordering Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Lake Michigan on its eastern edge.
2008 results: Kagen defeated Republican John Gard, 54 percent to 46 percent.
Demographics: According to the U.S. Census, 90.4 percent of the district is white, 0.8 percent black, 3.4 percent Hispanic, 1.6 percent Asian, and 2.5 percent American Indian and Alaska Native.
The Cook Partisan Index gives the Wisconsin 8th District a rating of R+2, awarding an edge to Republican voters in this district.