Editor's Note: In the final 100 days before Election Day, CNN has been profiling one race at random each day from among the nation's top 100 House races, which we've dubbed "The CNN 100." Read the full list here .
Today's featured district is:
Wisconsin 08: Rep. Steve Kagen (D) defends his seat.
Primary: September 14, 2010
Days until the election: 36
Democrat Steve Kagen is fighting for a third term in a district that hasn't elected a Democrat to a third term in a century.
This is Wisconsin's eighth congressional district, a swing district in every sense: George W. Bush won with 55 percent in 2004 and Barack Obama won with 54 percent in 2008. The party committees are majorly invested here: Republicans have given their nominee, Reid Ribble, the mantle of "young gun" which is their so-called "premier" campaign status – he'll get top funding and top focus. Democrats, naturally, are pulling out all the stops for Kagen to win a third term.
Money has been a decisive factor in this race: both candidates have their own cash to add to the mix. Ribble, whose personal profits come from running a roofing company, easily won the GOP primary against a much more well-known candidate because he was able to get his message out to voters on airwaves early on, and invested more than $70,000 of his own money in the campaign. The downside to that is that he has very little cash left – only $70,832 left as of September 22. Kagen, who heavily invested in his first campaign from his own personal coffers (from years of running allergy clinics), hasn't yet spent his own money on this race, and has a hefty $777,232 left to spend in the last weeks.
Tea Party activists have been quite busy and vocal in Wisconsin's 8th, and Ribble has their support. In a district where voters are worried about the economy and jobs in particular (unemployment is a little over seven percent) both sides have argued loudly - with the GOP tagging Kagen as a "tax and spend liberal" and Democrats arguing that Ribble is "out of touch."
Kagen's voting record isn't an easy sell in an anti-incumbent year – he stayed loyal to his party on the stimulus, energy, and health care (and spent a fair amount of time defending himself, especially for his health care stance, in raucous town hall meetings where activists went after his support for the bill).
A poll conducted by the conservative group American Action Forum a month before the state primary had Ribble 10 points ahead of Kagen – 49 percent to 39 percent.