Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2012, term expires 2018, 1st term.

Born: February 11, 1962, Madison

Home: Madison

Education: Smith College, B.A., 1984; University of Wisconsin, J.D., 1989

Professional Career: Practicing attorney, 1989-1992

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: No religious affiliation

Family: Single

Democrat Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin’s junior senator, is the first openly gay person to serve in the U.S. Senate, and she is the first woman elected to the Senate from Wisconsin. In 2012, the former House member defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson for the open seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl.

Baldwin grew up in Madison, where she was raised by her mother, a University of Wisconsin student when Tammy was born, and her maternal grandparents, a UW biochemist and the theater department’s head costume designer. She graduated first in her class at Madison West High School and went on to Smith College and UW law school. In 1986, at age 24 and still in law school, she was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. In 1992, she was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly.

Six years later, when moderate Republican Scott Klug honored his promise to serve only four terms in the U.S. House, Baldwin got into the race, along with three other Democrats and six Republicans. As a woman who favored abortion rights, she was supported by EMILY’s List, which helped her raise about one-quarter of her $1.5 million campaign chest. Baldwin won with 37% of the vote, then beat former state Insurance Commissioner Jo Musser in the general election. Having come out as a lesbian during her college years, Baldwin became the first openly gay non-incumbent to win a seat in the House.

Baldwin’s voting record consistently was one of the most liberal in the House. She had a coveted seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but with the chamber in Republican hands, her ability to accomplish many of her progressive goals was limited. She had been sharply critical of many GOP proposals, including the controversial budget proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan, also from Wisconsin, and of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s equally controversial proposal to limit collective bargaining rights for state workers, the issue that touched off a recall campaign against Walker.

Baldwin’s driving issue has been guaranteed health care for all Americans. She supported the Democrats’ 2010 overhaul of the health insurance system even though it dropped a government-run “public option” to compete with private insurers, a provision she favored. She has also been at the forefront of the opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriages. In 2008, she and Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank created the House Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equality Caucus. An outspoken opponent of the Iraq war, she signed on as a cosponsor of Democrat Dennis Kucinich’s 2007 resolution to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney for “deceptive actions leading up to the Iraq war” and other suspected crimes.

After Baldwin decided to run for Kohl’s seat, she was unchallenged in the Democratic primary, giving her ample time to organize her campaign and raise money. Thompson, meanwhile, had to first get past three more conservative candidates in the Republican primary. Nevertheless, he started with a lead over Baldwin in the general election campaign, prompting her to move quickly. She and her allies outspent Thompson and his backers by 3-to-1 in the weeks after the primary. It turned into an unrelentingly negative race, with the two candidates squabbling over everything from Thompson’s investments to who cared more about the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Baldwin ran a disciplined race, seeking to convince voters that she would be more attuned to the needs of Wisconsin than the 70-year-old Thompson, a former Health and Human Services secretary under George W. Bush who hadn’t been a candidate for office in 14 years. Realizing it made little sense to attack Thompson’s gubernatorial record, which many Wisconsinites of both parties still remembered fondly, Baldwin instead blasted Thompson with negative television ads about his post-gubernatorial career, highlighting especially his work for a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm. Her attacks caused Thompson’s negatives to skyrocket. Meanwhile, Baldwin downplayed her liberal views in favor of taking populist stands against China’s trade policies and highlighting her work across the aisle.

Thompson and Republicans accused Baldwin of being a radical, with his campaign releasing an ad citing her 2006 vote against a resolution honoring victims of the September 11 attacks. Baldwin said that Republicans had added provisions to the resolution commending other policies that she opposed, such as the USA Patriot Act. Her campaign fired back with an ad of its own, accusing Thompson of profiting off the victims. One outside analysis of both campaigns’ ads found that over a 30-day period, 99% were negative.

In the end, the moderate Thompson’s attempts to appear more conservative—he told a tea party group that he wanted to “do away with the Medicare and Medicaid,” a departure from his previous positions—rang hollow with voters. The former governor failed to attract a significant number of Democratic crossover voters, and Baldwin won 51% to 46%.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-5653

(202) 224-9787

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 717
Washington, DC 20510-4906

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-5653

(202) 224-9787

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 717
Washington, DC 20510-4906

DISTRICT OFFICE

(608) 264-5338

(608) 264-5473

14 West Mifflin Street Suite 207
Madison, WI 53703

DISTRICT OFFICE

(608) 264-5338

(608) 264-5473

14 West Mifflin Street Suite 207
Madison, WI 53703

DISTRICT OFFICE

(414) 297-4451

(414) 297-4455

633 West Wisconsin Avenue Suite 1920
Milwaukee, WI 53203

DISTRICT OFFICE

(414) 297-4451

(414) 297-4455

633 West Wisconsin Avenue Suite 1920
Milwaukee, WI 53203

DISTRICT OFFICE

(715) 832-8424

(715) 832-8492

402 Graham Avenue Suite 206
Eau Claire, WI 54701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(715) 832-8424

(715) 832-8492

402 Graham Avenue Suite 206
Eau Claire, WI 54701

DISTRICT OFFICE

(608) 796-0045

(608) 796-0089

205 Fifth Avenue, South Room 216
La Crosse, WI 54601

DISTRICT OFFICE

(608) 796-0045

(608) 796-0089

205 Fifth Avenue, South Room 216
La Crosse, WI 54601

Staff

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Aerospace

John Assini
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Deputy Chief of Staff; Policy Director

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Meghan Ladwig
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John Assini
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John Assini
Legislative Aide

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Jasmine Badreddine
Legislative Correspondent

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Katherine LaTour
Legislative Correspondent; Mail Manager

Foreign

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Legislative Aide

Gambling

Meghan Ladwig
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Katherine LaTour
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Kathleen Laird
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Jasmine Badreddine
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Homeland Security

Jeremy Steslicki
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Meghan Ladwig
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Brian Conlan
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Katherine LaTour
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Human Rights

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Ken Reidy
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Katherine LaTour
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Medicare

Kathleen Laird
Legislative Assistant

Jasmine Badreddine
Legislative Correspondent

Military

Jeremy Steslicki
Legislative Assistant

Casey Hagen
Legislative Aide

Native Americans

Meghan Ladwig
Legislative Assistant

Brian Conlan
Legislative Assistant

Katherine LaTour
Legislative Correspondent; Mail Manager

Privacy

Recreation

Colleene Thomas
Legislative Assistant

Science

John Assini
Legislative Aide

Seniors

Kathleen Laird
Legislative Assistant

Jasmine Badreddine
Legislative Correspondent

Social Security

Meghan Ladwig
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Meghan Ladwig
Legislative Assistant

Ken Reidy
Deputy Chief of Staff; Policy Director

Technology

Colleene Thomas
Legislative Assistant

John Assini
Legislative Aide

Telecommunications

Trade

Brian Conlan
Legislative Assistant

Katherine LaTour
Legislative Correspondent; Mail Manager

Transportation

Meghan Ladwig
Legislative Assistant

Brian Conlan
Legislative Assistant

Katherine LaTour
Legislative Correspondent; Mail Manager

Veterans

Casey Hagen
Legislative Aide

Welfare

Kathleen Laird
Legislative Assistant

Jasmine Badreddine
Legislative Correspondent

Women

Kathleen Laird
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Tammy Baldwin
Votes: 1,547,104
Percent: 51.47%
Tommy Thompson
Votes: 1,380,126
Percent: 45.91%
2012 PRIMARY
Tammy Baldwin
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
House: 2010 (62%), 2008 (69%), 2006 (63%), 2004 (63%), 2002 (66%), 2000 (51%), 1998 (53%)

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