We reported earlier today that Tammy Baldwin won a seat in the Senate and became the first openly gay senator in history. Here’s what you need to know about the now-famous Democrat.
1. Tammy was Born and Raised in Wisconsin
Baldwin was born and raised in Wisconsin, left for Massachusetts for college and then returned to attend the University of Wisconsin Law School. She practiced law for three years before entering politics.
2. She Was the First Woman Elected to House of Representatives from Wisconsin
Before she busted open the gates by becoming the first openly gay U.S. senator in America, she broke through boundaries when she was the first woman to be elected to Congress from Wisconsin, winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1998.
3. Her Win Was an Important Hold for the Democrats
Baldwin’s victory was a massive blow to the Republicans, maintaining a Democratic seat in the somewhat-red Wisconsin, adding to the Democratic net gain of four seats in the Senate on Tuesday.
4. She’s Been Active in Politics for More than 25 years
In Tammy’s first election win, she was appointed to the Dane County Board of Supervisors, on which she served from 1986 to 1994. She followed that with three terms in the Wisconsin Assembly in the ’90s, and then became the first openly gay non-incumbent person elected to Congress in 1998. She held that position in the House of Representatives for seven terms.
5. She Was Voted ‘Most Liberal’ but Identifies as a ‘Proud Progressive’
According to rankings done by the National Journal, Baldwin tied with six others for the ranking of “most liberal” in 2010. However, in an interview during her candidacy for Senate, she wouldn’t call herself a liberal and instead considered herself “progressive and a fighter who’s not afraid to stand up” as a voice for the middle class.
6. She Supports Health Care Reform
On Baldwin’s website, she draws attention to the fact that her first priority is providing health care for all. She also claims that she originally sought a seat in Congress to “ensure affordable, accessible health care coverage for all in this country,” a goal that remains in the forefront of her agenda for the future. She voted in favor of Obamacare in 2010.
7. She Fights for Civil Rights
Baldwin asserts that her strong feelings on health care are followed closely by her support of “equal rights, justice, and equal protections for all.” Baldwin has been at the forefront of gay marriage debate, opposing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. She works to prevent discrimination against gays in the workplace. She also fought to expand the definition of hate crimes to include people singled out based on gender, sexual orientation or disabilities. She also supported the Equal Pay Act and the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which aim to end wage discrimination based on gender.
And here she is totally rocking out at the Wisconsin Capitol Pride Rally:
8. She Was the Underdog
Only six years ago Wisconsin voted to ban gay marriages in the state. But now, they’re home to the nation’s first gay senator. Tammy’s opponent in the Senate race was Tommy Thompson, a popular former governor and the secretary of health and human services under George W. Bush. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and other heavy hitters lent a hand to Thompson on the campaign trail. Despite this, and beginning her campaign as a longshot, Baldwin was able to raise $12 million, over $5 million more than Thompson, and captured 51 percent of the vote.
9. Her Sexuality was Hardly Discussed During her Campaign
Though she received donations from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, her sexuality was largely a non-issue during her campaign. As CNN quotes, she didn’t run to make history, but rather “to make a difference.” She does acknowledge that her win helps to create a Senate that is “more reflective” of the American people. Baldwin says the majority of voters place more importance on her positions on issues that affect them than her sexual orientation.
10. She Led the Charge to Impeach Dick Cheney
Baldwin was among the 133 members of the House of Representatives to vote against the invasion of Iraq. She also co-sponsored a bill to impeach Dick Cheney for alleged crimes including the “deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war.” When discussing her views on foreign policy during her campaign this year, she said “we cannot make mistakes of the previous administration of going to war without a definition of victory, of success and of achieving our goals and we can’t go without an exit strategy.”