Woman of the Week: Tammy Baldwin

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Women make up 51% of the population, 17% of Congress, and 0% of past presidents.

Name: Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin

Born: February 11, 1962 (age 50) in Madison, Wisconsin

Current Office: U.S. Representative from Wisconsin’s 2nd district

Political Party: Democratic Party

Residence: Madison, Wisconsin

Education: Bachelor of Arts (Government and Mathematics), Smith College; Juris Doctor, University of Wisconsin Law School

Why she is the Woman of the Week: Just six years ago, Wisconsin approved an amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions. Now, seven-term Rep. Tammy Baldwin is running an incredibly close race there against former Governor Tommy Thompson for U.S. Senate. If she wins, she will be the first openly gay Senator. She already broke ground in 1998 as the first openly gay candidate ever elected to Congress (a few members have come out while in office). She was also the first woman elected to Congress from the state of Wisconsin. Despite continuing stigmas attached to homosexuality in America—a top aide for the Thompson campaign sent out a video of Baldwin dancing at a gay pride event with the message “Clearly there’s no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy”—Baldwin has not attempted to downplay her sexuality but stuck to her message that this campaign is not about her personal life but the voters of Wisconsin.

Background: Baldwin was introduced to politics by her grandparents, who taught her the value of voting and contacting elected officials. Her grandparents raised her, as her mother was a student at the University of Wisconsin where she attended protest rallies in the ‘60s and suffered from an addiction to prescription drugs. In middle school, she served on a committee that helped “improve relations with homeowners near her school.” After graduating valedictorian from her high school, she went on to earn her degree from Smith College. While at law school at the University of Wisconsin, she was elected to her first public office on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. After graduating and practicing law for a time, she was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1993, serving until she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998. She is currently running for U.S. Senate against Republican Tommy Thompson.

Key Issues: Rep. Baldwin recently labeled herself a “proud progressive” and proven to be one of the most liberal members of Congress. She has defined herself by her position on healthcare, ideologically favoring a single-payer, government-run universal healthcare system (though she supported President Obama’s Affordable Care Act). She is a lead sponsor of the Buffet Rule requiring the highest earners to pay their “fair share.” In 2005 she entered the Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus, consistent with her initial opposition to the war. She is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as serving on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, where she is an advocate for energy independence, renewable fuels, and cap-and-trade measures.

Her Latest Headline: “Tammy Baldwin and Senate Dems forge a lead” – The Washington Post

Certainly things have changed, but this is an election about basic economics and who is fighting for you.” – Tammy Baldwin

 

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About author

Natalie Pate

Natalie is a junior from Charlotte, North Carolina majoring in History and Public Policy (with a concentration on Social Justice). She comes from a very politically engaged family, but truly discovered her passion for politics in her tenth grade Civics class. Since then, Natalie has volunteered and registered voters for presidential campaigns as well as worked in the office of U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC). In March of 2012, Natalie represented Vanderbilt at the National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement Annual Conference at Harvard University Institute of Politics. She now serves as a Senior Editor on Vanderbilt Political Review and writes the column "Real Women, Real Politics." Natalie is also Secretary of Vanderbilt College Democrats.

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