It is indeed newsworthy when someone announces they will be challenging a sitting member of Congress. But the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s handling of a Democrat announcing he will challenge 8th District Congressman Mike Gallagher includes what appear to be several indicators of enthusiasm on the paper’s part.
Brown County assistant district attorney Beau Liegeois is the first candidate to announce he will challenge Gallagher next year. Yet, the PG says “challengers are already lining up to oust the freshman GOP lawmaker.” If this is a line, then Liegeois makes one in a row. There are not “challengers.” There is a challenger. Then, the PG quotes a political science professor who argues Liegeois’ early entry could give him a competitive advantage:
But declaring candidacy now means Liegois can begin fundraising and spending on election-related activities in earnest. It also could be strategically important, said Charlie Jacobs, associate professor of political science at St. Norbert College.
While the 8th District has had a mild shift politically to the right just like the entire state, it still tends to swing between Democrat and Republican officeholders. And that means political parties are more likely to spend money on getting candidates elected, according to Jacobs.
“This is a competitive district and it’s one that can be won by Democrats if the conditions are right,” Jacobs said.
Left unsaid are several realities that suggest Liegeois will have a steep uphill climb to mounting a competitive challenge to Gallager
- The district wasn’t even remotely competitive in 2016. Gallagher defeated Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson by 26 points.
- Nelson is a known political entity in Northeast Wisconsin. Liegeois is a complete political unknown.
- A source tells Media Trackers that Gallagher’s seat isn’t in the top 90 seats targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2018. That means it is unlikely Liegeois can expect any national air support in his bid, assuming he becomes the Democratic nominee.
- Democrats appear to be targeting another Republican incumbent in Wisconsin: 6th District Representative Glenn Grothman. Dan Kohl, nephew of former Senator Herb Kohl is one of the Democrats who have announced in the race. Incidentally, Kohl’s announcement came in mid-June. That’s three months before Liegeois’ announcement, which the PG considers so very early. It’s expected Kohl and his family could pour considerable resources into the race.
Also, the PG’s web version of the Liegeois announcement includes a one minute and forty-five second video of Liegeois which is really nothing more than a free campaign ad. A viewer couldn’t be faulted if they expected the standard “I approve this message” disclaimer at the end. No Q&A; just Liegeois selling himself.
Despite the PG’s coverage of the Liegois announcement, the story was largely lost in a week dominated by political news out of Madison.