MADISON, Wis. — Democratic U. S. Representative Tammy Baldwin on Tuesday morning declared her candidacy for a U.S. Senate seat in her home state of Wisconsin. The seat is being vacated by fellow Democrat, Senator Herb Kohl, who announced in May that he would be retiring.
Baldwin is the first Democrat to officially announce her intent, and if elected, would become the first openly gay U.S. Senator.
Khol’s seat is one of at least eight open spots that could determine a shift of power in the Senate, where the GOP needs to pick up just four seats to become the majority party in control.
The Congresswoman, who made her announcement in an email and video to supporters early Tuesday, is the first woman, and openly gay non-incumbent, to be elected to the U.S. House from the state of Wisconsin. For fifteen years, her domestic partner was Lauren Azar, until the couple separated in 2010.
Baldwin is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and according to a survey conducted by the nonpartisan National Journal, her voting and legislative record is considered one of the most progressive in the House.
In today’s message to her supporters, Baldwin portrayed herself as moving to the political center by positioning herself as the best candidate for middle-class voters feeling squeezed in the tough economy.
“It’s time politicians looked out for seniors, working families and the middle class — instead of protecting the profits of big oil and Wall Street,” she said.
Baldwin also used her video message to mention her opposition to the war in Iraq and her support for ending the war in Afghanistan, as well as to hint at the obstacles her candidacy will face as she seeks to win her first statewide election.
“I’m used to facing challenges head on,” she said. “When I first ran for Congress in 1998, people counted me out. But we worked hard, campaigned across south-central Wisconsin, and we won.”
Political analysts are certain that the Republicans will attack Baldwin’s liberal House voting record, hoping to sway the independent and moderate voters in Wisconsin, a state that has swung between giving Barack Obama a 14-point win in the 2008 presidential race and kicking Democrats out of power in the Statehouse during the 2010 contests.