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BIO: Who Is Tammy Baldwin?

Fox News projected Tuesday night that Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) will win the Wisconsin Senate race, beating out her Republican rival, Tommy Thompson.

Here's some background info on the 50-year-old Madison-native, who will be the first openly gay senator in U.S. history:

Residence: Madison
Born: Feb. 11, 1962; Madison, Wis.
Religion: Unspecified
Family: Dissolved partnership
Education: Smith College, A.B. 1984 (math & government); U. of Wisconsin, J.D. 1989
Military Service: None
Career: Lawyer

Elected: 1998 (7th term)
Note: Running for Senate
Political Highlights: Madison City Council, 1986; Dane County Board of Supervisors, 1986-94; Wis. Assembly, 1993-99; U.S. House, 1999-2013
Committees: Energy & Commerce (Environment & the Economy; Health)

  • Born and raised in Madison, home to the University of Wisconsin and a hotbed of liberalism
  • Raised by maternal grandparents while her mother attended the university and participated in civil rights and anti-war demonstrations.
  • Her grandfather was a biochemist, and her grandmother worked at the costume lab at the university theater.
  • Baldwin got into politics while she was still in law school. In 1986, at age 24, she won election as a Dane County supervisor.
  • Baldwin edged out two well-known opponents in the 1998 primary for the House. She then beat former state Insurance Commissioner Josephine Musser by 6 percentage points. In 2000, she eked out a 3-percentage-point victory over Republican John Sharpless, a history professor. She has prevailed handily since, winning with 62 percent of the vote in 2010.
  • Baldwin is one of the most liberal members of Congress.
  • Her seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee positions her well to promote her interests in health care.
  • She was persistent critic of President George W. Bush. A member of the Progressive Caucus, Baldwin was one of six House members who cosponsored a 2008 resolution calling for an impeachment inquiry of Bush.
  • Baldwin is the first woman elected to Congress from Wisconsin and the first openly gay woman to win a seat in either chamber.
  • She exchanged marriage vows in 1998 with Lauren Azar, a lawyer, though same-sex unions are not legal in Wisconsin (their partnership was later dissolved).
  • With Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts, she founded the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equality Caucus in 2008.
  • She backs legislation - bound to go nowhere in the GOP-led House - to repeal the 1996 law known as the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • In the 110th, Bush signed into law two health bills she had sponsored. The first, which she considers one of her most significant achievements in Congress, reauthorized and expanded a screening program for breast and cervical cancer. The second expanded benefits for veterans with impaired vision.
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