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Tammy Baldwin

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Tammy Baldwin
Tammy Baldwin, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg
Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Leader Chuck Schumer
Preceded by Patty Murray
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Serving with Ron Johnson
Preceded by Herb Kohl
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1999 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Scott Klug
Succeeded by Mark Pocan
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 78th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1999
Preceded by David Clarenbach
Succeeded by Mark Pocan
Personal details
Born Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin
(1962-02-11) February 11, 1962 (age 56)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Education Smith College (BA)
University of Wisconsin–Madison (JD)
Website Senate website

Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin (born February 11, 1962) is the junior United States Senator from Wisconsin and a member of the Democratic Party. She served three terms in the Wisconsin Assembly, representing the 78th district, and from 1999 to 2013 represented Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.

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 U.S. Congress and the first openly gay U.S. Senator in history.[1]

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.[2][3] 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.[4] Baldwin's aunt is biochemist Rowena Green Matthews; through her maternal grandfather, Baldwin is a third cousin of comedian Andy Samberg.[5][6]

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.[7] She was a lawyer in private practice from 1989 to 1992.[8]

Baldwin was first elected to political office in 1986 at the age of 24 when she was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors, a position she held until 1994.[9] She also served one year on the Madison City Council to fill a vacancy in the coterminous district.[10]

Wisconsin Assembly (1993–1999)

Elections

In 1992, Baldwin ran to represent Wisconsin's 78th Assembly District. She won the Democratic primary with 43% of the vote.[11] In the general election, Baldwin defeated Mary Kay Baum (Labor and Farm Party nominee) and Patricia Hevenor (Republican Party nominee) by a vote of 59%-23%-17%.[12] She was one of just six openly gay political candidates nationwide to win a general election in 1992.[13]

In 1994, Baldwin won reelection to a second term with 76% of the vote.[14] In 1996, she won reelection to a third term with 71% of the vote.[15]

Tenure

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 support of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.[16] In early 1994, she proposed legalizing same-sex marriage in Wisconsin.[17][18] In 1995, she proposed domestic partnerships in Wisconsin.[19]

Baldwin opposes capital punishment in Wisconsin.[20]

Committee assignments

  • Criminal Justice Committee[21]
  • Education Committee (Chair)[22]

U.S. House of Representatives (1999–2013)

Baldwin presiding over the House while serving as Speaker Pro Tempore

Elections

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.[23] In the general election, she defeated Republican nominee Josephine Musser 53%-47%.[24]

Baldwin was the first woman elected to Congress from Wisconsin. She was also the first openly gay woman elected to the House of Representatives.[25]

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.[26]

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.[27] In 2004, she beat Dave Magnum 63%-37%.[28] She won a 2006 rematch against Magnum, again winning 63%-37%.[29] In 2008, she defeated Peter Theron 69%-31%,[30] and in 2010 she won a seventh term with 62% of the vote against Chad Lee.[31]

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate (2013–present)

2012 election

Baldwin and Thompson debating during the 2012 election

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.[32] She ran uncontested in the primary election,[33] and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention about tax policy, campaign finance reform, and equality in the United States.[34]

She was endorsed by Democracy for America, and she received campaign funding from EMILY's List, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and LPAC.[35] 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."[36]

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson claimed that her “far left approach leaves this country in jeopardy.”[37]

The candidates had three debates, on September 28,[38][39] October 18,[40] and October 26.[41] According to Baldwin's Federal Election Commission filings, she raised about $12 million, over $5 million more than her opponent.[42]

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.[43]

Baldwin was featured in Time's November 19, 2012 edition, in the Verbatim section, where she was quoted as saying "I didn't run to make history" on her historic election.[44] In a separate section, she was also mentioned as a new face to watch in the Senate.[45]

2018 election

Baldwin is running for reelection in 2018.[46]

Committee assignments

Political positions

Ideology

In October 2012, Baldwin described herself as a proud progressive. "Fighting Bob La Follette stood up to fight the monopolies of the day and wanted people to have a stronger voice," she said. "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."[47] No two U.S. Senators from the same state vote the same way less often than Baldwin and her Republican colleague Ron Johnson do.[48]

In 2003, Baldwin served on the advisory committee of the Progressive Majority, a political action committee dedicated to electing progressive candidates to public office.[49]

Baldwin is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[50] According to a 2011 National Journal survey, she was among the most liberal members of the House.[51] As of 2012, her voting record made her one of the most liberal members of Congress.[52][53][49][54]

Economy and jobs

In 2016, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave Baldwin a 32% cumulative score on "key business votes."[55] The Wisconsin GOP noted that in the view of the Chamber of Commerce, Baldwin therefore had "the worst record of any red-state Senator when it comes to jobs," Joe Manchin, for example, having earned a score of 59% and Joe Donnelly a score of 65%. "Senator Baldwin," wrote the Wisconsin GOP, "hovers closer to Senator Elizabeth Warren, who's at 31%."[56]

In October 2017, CBS News reported that the Freedom Partners, a Koch-funded group, had "launched a $1.6 million television and digital ad campaign" targeting Baldwin for her "stance on taxes." The ads charged her with having "voted for five trillion dollars in more taxes" and with having "supported higher income taxes, sales taxes – even energy taxes." One ad stated: "If Tammy Baldwin opposes tax reform, it's proof that she opposes jobs."[57]

In November 2017, Baldwin expressed opposition to the Trump tax-reform bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, saying that it was being drafted "behind closed doors" and charging that it was being "shoved through." In its place, she promoted a bill, the Stronger Way Act, that she and Cory Booker (D-NJ) co-sponsored.[58]

Government spending

The Wisconsin GOP claimed on October 11, 2017, that Baldwin had "voted in favor of higher taxes and fees more than 400 times since she arrived in Washington."[59][60]

Terrorism

In November 2013, Baldwin introduced a bill that would "bring greater government transparency, oversight and due process whenever authorities use information gathered for intelligence purposes to make domestic non-terrorism cases against Americans."[61]

After the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, in June 2016, Baldwin said, "This was not only a horrific attack on the LGBT community, it was an attack on the freedoms we all hold dear. The question now for America is are we going to come together and stand united against hate, gun violence and terrorism? I understand it may not be easy, but I know we are better than this and it is past time to act together."[62] She later described it as a "hate crime."[63]

Immigration

In June 2013, Baldwin voted for S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which would have enabled undocumented immigrants to acquire legal residency status and, later, citizenship.[64] "Our immigration system is broken and I believe we need to fix it for all Americans," she said. "The bipartisan Senate plan puts in place a pathway for earned citizenship for undocumented individuals who are currently here living in the shadows...And reform provides students who were brought to our country as children, who have worked hard to earn a high school diploma, the opportunity they deserve to contribute to their communities by attending college, serving in the military, or starting their career."[65]

She voted against Kate's Law in 2016.[66] She is a strong supporter of the DREAM Act, and has praised "Dreamers" as "courageous."[67]

In 2017, NumbersUSA, which favors immigration controls, gave Baldwin an overall grade of F, with an overall score of 11% on immigration bills. On the reduction of unnecessary worker visas, she scored a C; on the reduction of refugee and asylum fraud, and on the reduction of amnesty enticements, she scored F-.[68]

Income inequality

In June 2016, Baldwin and Representative Sander Levin (D-MI) joined a group of more than 200 wealthy Americans opposed to economic inequality in calling for congressional action "to close the carried interest tax loophole."[69] In October 2017, the editors of the The Capital Times praised Baldwin and Bernie Sanders for their vocal opposition to a budget resolution that would increase income inequality. Baldwin was described as "one of the budget's most ardent foes."[70]

Opposition to Iraq War

Baldwin was a vocal critic of the Iraq War.[9][71] On October 10, 2002, she was among the 133 members of the House who voted against authorizing the invasion of Iraq. She warned there would be "postwar challenges," observing that "there is no history of democratic government in Iraq," that its "economy and infrastructure are in ruins after years of war and sanctions," and that rebuilding would take "a great deal of money."[72] In 2005, she joined the Out of Iraq Caucus.[73]

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 December 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."[74]

Baldwin speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Health care

An outspoken advocate of single-payer, government-run universal health care system since her days as a state legislator, Baldwin introduced the Health Security for All Americans Act, which would have required states to provide such a system, in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2005.[9][71][75][76][77] The bill died each time it was introduced without a House vote.[78]

She has said that she "believes strongly that a single-payer health system is the best way to comprehensively and fairly reform our health care system."[78] In November 2009, Baldwin voted for the version of health-care reform that included a public option, a government-run health-care 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, which became law in 2010.[9][79] Baldwin said she hoped a public option in the ACA would lead to a single-payer system. The first version of the ACA Baldwin voted for included a public option, but the final version did not.[78]

Baldwin introduced provisions to the health-care reform bill that specifically addressed disparities in health care for queer and transsexual 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 transsexual people.[80] 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.[81][82]

Resolution on 9/11 victims

Baldwin speaking at a U.S. Department of Justice event.

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 said she voted against the resolution because it also endorsed the Patriot Act and criticized illegal immigration.[83][84]

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."[83] 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."[83]

Gun law

Baldwin cosponsored the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015, which would empower the Department of Justice to prevent a known or suspected terrorist from purchasing firearms or explosives.[85][86]

ACORN

In 2009, when the House voted overwhelmingly to defund ACORN, Baldwin was one of 75 House members who did not.[87]

2016 U.S. presidential election

Baldwin with former Governor of Georgia and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in February 2017

On October 20, 2013, Baldwin was one of sixteen female Democratic Senators to sign a letter endorsing Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee in the 2016 presidential election.[88]

Handling of Veterans Affairs report

In January 2015, USA Today obtained a copy of a report by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general about the Tomah, Wisconsin Veterans Affairs medical facility. The report said that two physicians at the Tomah VA were among the biggest prescribers of opioids in a multistate region, raising "potentially serious concerns." Baldwin's office had received the report in August 2014 but did not take action until January 2015, when she called for an investigation after the Center for Investigative Reporting published details of the report, including information about a veteran who died from an overdose at the facility. A whistleblower and former Tomah VA employee learned that Baldwin's office had a copy of the report, and he repeatedly emailed Baldwin's office asking that she take action on the issue. Baldwin's office did not explain why they waited from August 2014 to January 2015 to call for an investigation. Baldwin was the only member of Congress who had a copy of the inspection report.[89][90]

In February 2015, Baldwin fired her deputy state director over her handling of the VA report. The aide was offered but declined a severance deal that included a cash payout and a confidentiality agreement that would have required her to keep quiet. The aide filed an ethics complaint with the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The complaint was dismissed as lacking merit.[91] Baldwin said, "we should have done a better job listening to and communicating with another constituent with whom we were working on problems at the VA"[90], and that she had started a review of why her office had failed to act on the report. As a result of the review, Baldwin fined her chief of staff, demoted her state director, and reassigned a veterans' outreach staffer.[92] In November 2017, Baldwin co-sponsored legislation to strengthen opioid safety in the Department of Veterans Affairs.[93]

Controversies

Pope remark

In a September 2015 radio interview, Baldwin said that she, the Pope, and Donald Trump all supported repeal of the carried interest tax loophole. Politifact stated that there was no record of the Pope weighing in on this particular tax break.[94]

Tomah VA Hospital

In 2009, a memo reported that patients at the Tomah, Wisconsin Veterans Administration Hospital were being prescribed "dangerous amounts of narcotics" by Dr. David Houlihan, the hospital's chief of staff. "Workers at the facility were hesitant to speak out against Dr. Houlihan, who earned the nickname 'the candy man' from his prescriptions, due to fear of losing their jobs."[95][96] The memo stated that "if providers or pharmacists refuse to follow Dr. Houlihan’s orders, they will be yelled at and perhaps fired." In 2014, Baldwin was sent a report by the VA inspector general detailing these facts. Ryan Honl, a whistleblower at the hospital, contacted her office repeatedly to ask for action on her part. She did not call for an investigation, however, until January 2015, when the Center for Investigative Reporting published details of the inspection report and recounted the recent overdose death of a Marine Corps veteran who was a patient at Tomah VA. When accused of inaction, Baldwin blamed the delay on one of her top staffers, whom she fired. The staffer, in turn, "filed an ethics complaint against Baldwin and accused her of a political coverup."[97][98][99] In 2017, Honl harshly criticized Baldwin for ignoring red flags at the hospital for so long. "My unfinished business is seeing Tammy Baldwin...head to the private sector like Russ Feingold," Honl said.[100] Also in 2017, it was reported that Baldwin had "paid Hillary Clinton's campaign lawyer $90,000 for crisis control" following the VA scandal.[101]

Electoral history

Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district election, 1998[102]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 116,377 52.49% +11.49
Republican Josephine Musser 103,528 46.69% -10.68%
Write-ins 1,578 0.80% +0.76%
Turnout 221,693 -21.50%
Democratic gain from Republican Swing
Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district election, 2000[103]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 163,534 51.36% -1.13%
Republican John Sharpless 154,632 48.56% +2.07%
Write-ins 214 0.06% -0.70%
Turnout 318,380 +30.36
Democratic hold Swing
Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district election, 2002[104]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 163,313 66.00% +14.64
Republican Ron Greer 83,694 33.82% -14.74%
Write-ins 403 0.16% +0.10
Turnout 247,410 -28.68%
Democratic hold Swing
Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district election, 2004[105]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 251,637 63.26% -2.74%
Republican Dave Magnum 145,810 36.66% +2.84%
Write-ins 277 0.06% -0.10%
Turnout 397,724 +37.79%
Democratic hold Swing
Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district election, 2006[106]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 191,414 62.82% -0.56%
Republican Dave Magnum 113,015 37.09% +0.53%
Write-ins 259 0.08% +0.02%
Turnout 304,688 -23.39%
Democratic hold Swing
Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district election, 2008[107]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 277,914 69.33% +6.51%
Republican Peter Theron 122,513 30.56% 6.53%
Write-ins 414 0.10%
Turnout 400,841 +23.98%
Democratic hold Swing
Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district election, 2010[108]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 191,164 61.73% -7.60%
Republican Chad Lee 118,099 38.16% +7.60%
Write-ins 197 0.06% -0.04%
Turnout 309,460 -22.79%
Democratic hold Swing
2012 United States Senate election, Wisconsin[109]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 1,547,104 51.41% -15.9
Republican Tommy Thompson 1,380,126 45.86% +16.4
Libertarian Joseph Kexel 62,240 2.07% +2.1
Independent Nimrod Allen, III 16,455 0.55% n/a
Other Scattered 3,486 0.12% +0.1
Majority 166,978 5.55
Turnout 3,009,411
Democratic hold Swing

Personal life

Baldwin is the granddaughter of biochemist David E. Green and the niece of another biochemist, Rowena Green Matthews.[110] For fifteen years, Baldwin's domestic partner was Lauren Azar; in 2009, the couple registered as domestic partners in Wisconsin.[111] They separated in 2010.[112]

See also

References

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External links

Wisconsin State Assembly
Preceded by
David Clarenbach
Member of the Wisconsin Assembly
from the 78th district

1993–1999
Succeeded by
Mark Pocan
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Scott Klug
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district

1999–2013
Succeeded by
Mark Pocan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Herb Kohl
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
(Class 1)

2012
Most recent
Preceded by
Patty Murray
Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference
2017–present
Incumbent
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Herb Kohl
United States Senator (Class 1) from Wisconsin
2013–present
Served alongside: Ron Johnson
Incumbent
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Tim Scott
United States Senators by seniority
65th
Succeeded by
Jeff Flake