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Rep. Steve Kagen Earns a B+

As the 2008 contest swings into gear, Campaign Confidential is busy collecting some Congressional report cards. Several Jewish freshmen from swing districts are expected to face stiff competition, including Democratic physician Steve Kagen of Wisconsin.

Last time around, Kagen beat out the the state’s Assembly Speaker, Republican John Gard, for an open seat in the eighth district – in a race that turned out to be the most expensive in Wisconsin history.

Lately, Gard has been exploring a potential rematch. Either way, Kagen is likely to face a serious Republican challenge, given that his district is Republican-leaning (and went to Bush both in 2000 and 2004).

With that in mind, I asked David Canon, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin, to grade Kagen’s political performance so far. Here’s the run-down:

Kagen’s Overall Grade: B+ (Canon says to keep in mind he’s “a pretty tough grader”

What Kagen Has Done Right:
* Fundraising
* Paying Attention to Local Issues, like the Farm Bill
* Making a Few High Profile Symbolic Gestures: Kagen has not accepted the health insurance offered to members of Congress and said he won’t accept any pay raise

What Kagen Can Work On:
* Reaching out to independent and Republican voters

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