Tammy Baldwin Elected to the U.S. Senate
Having spent 14 years in the U.S. House and having been a candidate in multiple Wisconsin elections spanning a political career that dated to the early 1980s, Tammy Baldwin was sure to perform well in the primary election. But it would take intense preparation, hard work, guts and a lot of faith on the part of Baldwin’s supporters to send her to Washington as the first out LGBTQ senator.
Indeed, campaigns and outside groups seeking to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Herb Kohl of Wisconsin spent more than $71,000,000 during the 2012 election cycle. Beyond the Senate race, Wisconsin was a battleground for national politics in 2012, with President Barack Obama seeking his second term.
Baldwin tapped into her existing donor networks and relied on boosters like EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ Victory Fund to “out-raise” Republican Tommy Thompson by 150 percent. For his part, Thompson was forced to spend more money earlier in the year because of a competitive GOP primary, while Baldwin was able to effectively clear the field with significant early fundraising. On November 7, Baldwin and Obama both won in Wisconsin.
At her victory party – after acknowledging the barriers she’d broken as the first LGBTQ candidate elected to the Senate and the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the upper chamber – Baldwin pivoted back to her true motivation for pursuing public service: “I didn’t run to make history. I ran to make a difference.”