Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin on Tuesday
declared her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by
retiring Senator Herb Kohl, becoming the first openly gay Senate
candidate with a viable shot at winning a seat.
After Kohl announced in May he would
not seek reelection in 2012, Baldwin said she was considering a bid
for the Democratic nomination. The Victory Fund, a group dedicated
to electing openly gay candidates, urged Baldwin to enter the race
and promised to make her candidacy a high priority.
The 49-year-old Baldwin made her
announcement in an email to supporters that included a videotaped
message. She is the first Democrat to enter the field.
“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 in her
“I'm used to facing challenges head
on,” she added. “When I first ran for Congress in 1998, people
counted me out. But we worked hard, campaigned across south-central
Wisconsin, and we won.” (The video is embedded in the right panel
of this page.)
Baldwin is among the four openly gay
lawmakers serving in the House. Also gay are David Cicilline of
Rhode Island, Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Jared Polis of
Colorado. Before being elected to Congress, she served 8 years in
the Wisconsin Assembly.
Baldwin is a perennial favorite among
her constituents – she won 63% percent of the vote on November 2 –
but remains untested in a statewide election.
Former Wisconsin Rep. Mark Neumann has
announced he'll seek the GOP nomination. The two-term former
1996 said, “If I were elected God for a day, homosexuality
wouldn't be permitted.”