By Lisa Keen
The news became official Tuesday: U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, is running for the U.S. Senate in 2012.
Baldwin made her announcement, which has been highly anticipated for weeks by the LGBT community, on her campaign website and via email to supporters Tuesday morning.
In her video announcement, Baldwin promised to listen to constituents, stand up for the middle class, and fight the “special interests.” She noted that, in 1998, she was the first woman from Wisconsin elected to Congress. A headline clipping on the video also notes, “Baldwin’s election opens doors for gays.” Baldwin also notes in her video that, 12 years ago, she voted against repealing the Glass-Stegal Act that prevented banks “from engaging in the types of risky practices that led to our financial crisis.”
“If others had stood with us, to take on Wall Street,” said Baldwin, “we could have avoided much of the mess we’re in today.” Baldwin also voted against the war in Iraq in 2006.
“Now, I believe it’s time to bring our brave men and women home from Afghanistan,” said Baldwin. “It’s clear the billions we’re spending there could be used here at home to reduce our deficit and help get our economy moving again – because isn’t that what we should all be focused on right now?”
Baldwin’s announcement makes her the first Democratic candidate for the seat being vacated by incumbent Senator Herb Kohl. Kohl made a surprise announcement in May that he would not seek re-election in 2012.
Baldwin’s announcement also makes her the first lesbian to run for the U.S. Senate. The first openly gay candidate was Ed Flanagan, who ran against incumbent Senator Jim Jeffords in Vermont in 2000.
If elected, Baldwin, who turned 49 in February, would become the first openly gay person in the U.S. Senate.
Recent polls have indicated she has a good chance. A Public Policy Poll released August 17 showed Baldwin is a favorite over two other potential candidates for the Democratic nomination – U.S. Rep. Ron Kind and former Rep. Steve Kagen. Thirty-one percent of 387 Democratic primary voters in Wisconsin said they’d support Baldwin to replace Kohl if Feingold declined to run. Kagen earned only 22 percent, and Kind garnered only 15 percent.