Magazine article In These Times

Will Wis. Elect Our First Gay Senator?

Magazine article In These Times

Will Wis. Elect Our First Gay Senator?

Article excerpt

THE REBELLION OF Wisconsin public employee unionists against Gov. Scott Walker's plan to take away collective bargaining rights generated crowds of 100,000 people or more at the state capítol in Madison. One of the most articulate and popular voices for the workers' cause proved to be US. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a seven-term veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives,

Baldwin, 49, has launched a populist campaign for the U.S. Senate, seeking to replace the retiring Herb Kohl, a mildly liberal Democratic senator who has served since 1988 (Wisconsin's other Senate seat is held by former CEO Ron Johnson, who beat progressive stalwart RUSS Feingold amid the Democratic carnage of the 2010 midterm elections).

With her combination of intellect, political principles and personal warmth, Baldwin- the nations first openly gay person to run for the US. Senate from either major party - has developed an enthusiastic base of constituents in her district, and among gays and lesbians nationally. Born in Madison, she has been open about her sexuality since winning a seat on the Dane County Board in 1986.

Despite her openly Left politics, Baldwin is well liked by politicians of both parties. While serving in the state Assembly from 1993 to 1999, when she was elected to Congress, she even got along well with then -legislator Scott Walker (now the state's governor), with whom she worked closely on a law to require disclosure of campaign funding.

The growing shift in the national mood makes this an ideal moment for Baldwins message, says David Newby, retired president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and her campaigns treasurer. "The Wisconsin rebellion and Occupy Wall Street movements have been raising issues of economic injustice and workers rights," Newby says.

Jim Cavanaugh, president of the South Central Federation of Labor, says that Baldwin has taken the most progressive position on every major issue during her tenure in the House. …

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