Democrat Tammy Baldwin made history tonight, winning in Wisconsin to become the first openly gay candidate elected to the Senate.
In one of the most expensive and bruising races in the country, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), the establishment favorite who narrowly won a four-way August primary.
Baldwin was able to ride the coattails of President Barack Obama, who won the Badger State, after mounting an extraordinarily effective media strategy that turned the tables on Thompson early in the general election. Her team was able to take Thompson’s high statewide name recognition and popularity and flip it on its head. She spent millions of dollars to paint the former Health and Human Services secretary as an out-of-touch Washington lobbyist who was “no longer for” Wisconsin.
Both Thompson and Baldwin were more unpopular with Wisconsin voters than they were popular in the closing days of the race, but clearly Badger State voters decided the Republican’s branding of Baldwin as “too extreme” was less damaging than the Democrat’s attack of Thompson.
“We nominated more women candidates than ever. We placed confidence every day and we never let up and now Joe Donnelly and Tammy Baldwin and Tim Kaine … they’re all coming to join us in the Senate,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) told a ballroom of supporters, well before the Wisconsin race was even called.