Despite Democrat assurances to the contrary, it's a big deal when one of their most powerful committee chairmen decides not to run for re-election.

Rep. David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat who is one of the most powerful and longest-serving members of Congress, said Wednesday that he wouldn't seek re-election this year, adding a new burden to Democrats in what is shaping up as a difficult election year. ...

Mr. Obey's retirement also means the departure of one of Congress's most high-profile figures. As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Mr. Obey plays a central role in divvying up hundreds of billions of dollars each year for basic government programs, such as Pentagon weapons procurements and Park Service salaries. First elected in 1969, he is the third-longest-serving member of the House.

"There is a time to stay and a time to go, and this is my time to go," Mr. Obey said. He described himself as "bone-tired."

Even before Mr. Obey's decision, Republicans were eyeing his largely rural, Northern Wisconsin district as a possible opportunity to pick up a seat. Mr. Obey was facing a spirited challenge from Ashland County District Attorney Sean Duffy, a Republican whose resume includes a stint on the cast of MTV's reality show "The Real World."

Internal Democrat polling data must look miserable.

(HT: JW.)

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