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 about me.”

“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 lose.

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.