Today, 13-term Democratic Rep. Ron Kind (WI-03) is expected to announce he will not seek reelection in 2022, news first reported by Politico. Kind's retirement is a major setback for House Democrats: he's one of just seven Democrats remaining from a district Donald Trump carried in 2020, had proven appeal in rural western Wisconsin, and is a former chair of the moderate New Democrat Coalition.
In 2020, Kind beat retired Navy SEAL and first-time candidate Derrick Van Orden by a closer-than-expected 51 percent to 49 percent while Trump carried the seat by five points. Van Orden, who used leftover campaign funds to attend the January 6 "Stop the Steal" rally (though he did not enter the Capitol), is running again in 2022 and outraised Kind $753,000 to $408,000 in the second quarter of 2021.
Redistricting posed additional uncertainty for Kind. In 2011, Wisconsin Republicans actually made the 3rd CD bluer to shore up then-GOP Rep. Sean Duffy in the northern 7th CD. But now that control of state government is split, a more compact or court-drawn map could make the 3rd CD slightly more Republican. Without Kind, Democrats will be hard-pressed to keep the 3rd CD in their column.
Open seats are emerging as a huge concern for Democrats: of the eight Democrats leaving the House, seven are from potentially vulnerable seats: Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Charlie Crist (FL-13), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Filemon Vela (TX-34) and Kind. Only Rep. Val Demings (FL-10) is leaving behind a seat expected to remain safely Democratic.
Meanwhile, of the eight Republicans leaving the House to retire or run for other office, all but two are from safe GOP seats. Only Reps. Lee Zeldin (NY-01) or Tom Reed (NY-23) are from seats that could be made vulnerable in redistricting.
Wisconsin is Democrats' redistricting problem in a nutshell. Even though it's an evenly divided state, Democratic voters are inefficiently clustered in Madison and Milwaukee and Trump carried six of its eight seats in 2020 despite losing the state overall. If the next map is similar to the current one, House Republicans will have an excellent chance to win six of eight districts in 2022.
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