Openly gay Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin
says her bid for a Senate seat won't be about her sexual orientation,
gay weekly the
Washington Blade reported.
Baldwin on Tuesday became the first
Democrat to formally declare her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat
being vacated by retiring Senator Herb Kohl. She is the first openly
gay Senate candidate with a viable shot at winning.
During a conference call on Wednesday,
Baldwin insisted she's always been open about her sexual orientation,
but added that the race will focus on other issues.
“I have always since the beginning of
all my adult life been out and honest about my sexual orientation,
and I think that voters appreciate the values of honesty and expect
integrity in their elected officials.”
The race, Baldwin added, “won't be
“It will be about the middle-class,
the threats that they're facing right now, the struggles that
families are experiencing and which candidate for U.S. Senate is
going to be the best fighter for them.”
Baldwin, who has never lost a race but
remains untested in a statewide election, faces stiff competition
from her GOP rivals, former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson and
former Wisconsin Rep. Mark Neumann. Neumann officially entered the
race last week, while Thompson has signaled he will follow. Early
polls show that in a contest with either candidate, Baldwin would
But whether Baldwin's sexual
orientation becomes an issue in the race is more up to her GOP rival.
Neumann, a two-term congressman, is not a supporter of gay rights.
In 1996, he said: “If I were elected God for a day, homosexuality
wouldn't be permitted.” Four years later, he walked back the
remark a bit, saying he wouldn't want to be God.