Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin (born February 11, 1962) is the junior United States Senator from Wisconsin and a member of the Democratic Party. She previously served as the U.S. Representative from Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district from 1999 to 2013, as well as serving three terms in the Wisconsin Assembly representing the 78th district.
Baldwin defeated her Republican opponent, former Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson, in the 2012 U.S. Senate election. She is the first woman elected to represent Wisconsin in the Senate and the first openly gay U.S. Senator in history. As of 2012, Baldwin's voting record makes her one of the most liberal members of Congress.
Early life, education, and early political career
Baldwin was born and grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, the daughter of Pamela (née Green) and Joseph Edward Baldwin. She was raised by her mother and her maternal grandparents. Her maternal grandfather, biochemist David E. Green, was Jewish (the son of immigrants from Russia and Germany), and her maternal grandmother, who was Anglican, was English-born. Baldwin's aunt is biochemist Rowena Green Matthews; through her maternal grandfather, Baldwin is a third cousin of comedian Andy Samberg.
Baldwin graduated from Madison West High School in 1980 as the class valedictorian. She earned a B.A. degree from Smith College in 1984 and a J.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1989. She practiced law from 1989 to 1992.
Baldwin was first elected to political office in 1986 when she was elected to the Dane CountyBoard of Supervisors, a position she held until 1994. She also served one year on the MadisonCity Council to fill a vacancy in the coterminous district.
Wisconsin Assembly (1993–1999)
In 1992, Baldwin ran to represent Wisconsin's 78th Assembly District. She won the Democratic primary with a plurality of 43% of the vote. In the general election, Baldwin defeated Mary Kay Baum (Labor and Farm party nominee) and Patricia Hevenor (Republican party nominee) 59%-23%-17%. She was one of just six openly gay political candidates nationwide to win a general election in 1992.
Baldwin was the first openly lesbian member of the Wisconsin Assembly and one of a very few openly gay politicians in the country at the time. In 1993, Baldwin said she was disappointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton's compromise on LGBT rights in supporting the military's don't ask, don't tell policy. In early 1994, she proposed legalizing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin. In 1995, she proposed domestic partnerships in Wisconsin.
U.S. House of Representatives (1999–2013)
In 1998, U.S. Congressman Scott Klug of the 2nd District, based in Madison, announced he would retire, prompting Baldwin to run for the seat. She won the Democratic primary with a plurality of 37% of the vote. In the general election, she defeated Republican nominee Josephine Musser 53%-47%.
In 2000, Baldwin won reelection to a second term, defeating Republican John Sharpless 51%-49%, a difference of 8,902 votes. While she lost eight of the district's nine counties, she carried the largest, Dane County, with 55 percent of the vote—enough to give her the victory.
After the 2000 census, the 2nd District was made significantly more Democratic in redistricting. Baldwin won reelection to a third term in the newly redrawn 2nd district with 66% of the vote against Republican Ron Greer. In 2004, she beat Dave Magnum 63%-37%. She won a 2006 rematch against Magnum, again winning 63%-37%. In 2008, she defeated Peter Theron 69%-31%, and in 2010 she won a seventh term with 62% of the vote against Chad Lee.
In October 2012, Baldwin described herself as a proud progressive. Specifically, she said, "Fighting Bob La Follette stood up to fight the monopolies of the day and wanted people to have a stronger voice. We have the same powerful interests today who think they can write their own rules in Washington ... I consider myself a progressive and a fighter who's not afraid to stand up to those interests."
Baldwin is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. According to a 2011 National Journal survey, Baldwin was among the most liberal members of the House. As of 2012, Baldwin's voting record made her one of the most liberal members of Congress.
Opposition to Iraq War
On October 10, 2002, Baldwin was among the 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq. She invoked "postwar challenges," saying that "there is no history of democratic government in Iraq", its "economy and infrastructure are in ruins after years of war and sanctions," and rebuilding would take "a great deal of money." In 2005, she joined the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus.
Impeachment of Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales
On August 1, 2007, Baldwin cosponsored H. Res. 333, a bill proposing articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney, and H Res. 589, a bill proposing the impeachment of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. On January 20, 2008, Baldwin wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that on Dec. 14, 2007, "I joined with my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee, Reps. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), in urging Chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to conduct hearings on a resolution of impeachment now pending consideration in that committee." Although some constituents "say I have gone too far," others "argue I have not gone far enough" and feel "we are losing our democracy and that I should do more to hold the Bush administration accountable for its actions."
Health care reform
An outspoken advocate of single-payer, government-run health insurance since her days as a state legislator, Baldwin introduced the Health Security for All Americans Act, aimed at creating such a system, multiple times, beginning in 2000.
On July 26, 2004, Baldwin spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in prime time on the issue of health care. During the 110th Congress, Baldwin wrote several pieces of legislation that were passed by the House. The Reeve Paralysis Act authorizes additional funding for the treatment of ailments that result in immobility, while the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Act increases funding for low-income women to receive preventative screenings. Another bill she authored, the Veteran Vision Equity Act, guarantees benefits for military veterans.
Baldwin introduced provisions to the healthcare reform bill that specifically addressed disparities in health care for queer and trans* communities. Most significant among them were the “Early Treatment for HIV Act,” which sought to allow states to provide Medicaid coverage to low-income individuals living with HIV or AIDS; the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, which sought to end the tax for gay employees whose partners are covered under their employment health insurance coverage; and a provision to collect data toward ending disparities in health care for queer and trans* people. None of these provisions were included in the final version of the PPACA, though there was some relief for HIV-positive individuals who have to purchase expensive AIDS-related medications. Baldwin did, however, author the amendment to the PPACA that allowed Americans to stay on their parents' plans until the age of 26, a significant part of the legislation.
In November 2009, Baldwin voted for the version of healthcare reform that included a public option, a government-run healthcare plan that would have competed with private insurers, but only the House passed that version. She ultimately voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, that become law in 2010.
Baldwin lent her support to such initiatives as the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and voted for the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. These acts criminalize and outline prosecution guidelines and punishments for wage discrimination based on sex. She received a grade of 100 from the League of Women Voters as of 2007. She has received favorable evaluations from other civil rights groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union.
Baldwin has advanced what she sees as stronger enforcement of laws against sexual violence and violence against women. She is a supporter of the Violence Against Women Act, which allowed victims of sexual violence and other sexual crimes to take their cases to federal courts and provided funding for various anti-sexual violence initiatives and programs. She is also among the sponsors of a resolution to promote and support National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
Baldwin has promoted her efforts on behalf of women's health and reproductive rights. She sponsored the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Reauthorization Act of 2007, which helped low-income, underinsured, and uninsured women pay for cervical and breast cancer-related medical services.
Bahai groups praised her for supporting a bill that would make the desecration of Bahai cemeteries a violation of religious freedom.
Resolution on 9/11 victims
Baldwin was one of 22 members of Congress to vote against a 2006 resolution honoring victims of the September 11 attacks on the fifth anniversary of 9/11. (The resolution passed 395-22.) Baldwin says she voted against the resolution because it used divisive language amounting to an endorsement of the Patriot Act and immigration bills she characterized as overly harsh.
Her vote received renewed attention in the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign when Tommy Thompson's campaign released an ad about it. Thompson said in a statement, "Wisconsin voters need to know that Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin put her extreme views above honoring the men and women who were murdered by the terrorists in the Sept. 11 attacks on our nation." The Baldwin campaign responded by saying Thompson's ad was a "dishonest attack that tries to suggest Tammy Baldwin opposes honoring the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks."
U.S. Senate (2013–present)
Baldwin ran as the Democratic nominee against Republican nominee Tommy Thompson, who had formerly been governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services. She announced her candidacy on September 6, 2011, in a video emailed to supporters. She ran uncontested in the primary election, and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention about tax policy, campaign finance reform, and equality in the United States.
She was endorsed by Democracy for America, and she received campaign funding from EMILY's List, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and LPAC. Baldwin was endorsed by the editorial board of The Capital Times, who wrote that "Baldwin's fresh ideas on issues ranging from job creation to health care reform, along with her proven record of working across lines of partisanship and ideology, and her grace under pressure mark her as precisely the right choice to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl."
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson claimed that her “far left approach leaves this country in jeopardy.”
The candidates had three debates, on September 28, October 18, and October 26. According to Baldwin's Federal Election Commission filings, she raised about $12 million, over $5 million more than her opponent.
On November 6, 2012, Baldwin became the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the U.S. Senate. Because of her 14 years in the House of Representatives, under Senate rules she had the highest seniority in her entering class of senators.
The senator was featured in Time's November 19 edition in the Verbatim section, where she was quoted as saying "I didn't run to make history" on her historic election. In a separate section, she was also mentioned as a new face to watch in the Senate.
In January 2015, it was reported that the senator had for months failed to act on findings of extremely high numbers of opiate prescriptions at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin.
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
- Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
- Special Committee on Aging
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For fifteen years, Baldwin's domestic partner was Lauren Azar; in 2009, the couple registered as domestic partners in Wisconsin. They separated in 2010.