Tammy Baldwin – Early Career, Committees & Wisconsin Senator

Tammy Baldwin is the first openly gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate. She is also Wisconsin’s first congresswoman.

Who Is Tammy Baldwin? 

Democratic politician Tammy Baldwin was born in Wisconsin on February 11, 1962. From 1993 to 1999, Baldwin represented her state’s 78th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly. 

What Is Tammy Baldwin Famous For?

While serving in the House (1999-2012), Baldwin became known for focusing on energy issues, serving on the House’s Committee on Energy and Commerce, and for supporting LGBTQ+ rights and universal health care. Baldwin became Wisconsin’s first congresswoman, defeating Republican candidate Josephine Musser in the 1998 election for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. She became the first openly gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate and the first Wisconsin woman elected to the Senate in 2012.

Tammy Baldwin was born Tammy Suzanne Green Baldwin on February 11, 1962, to Joseph Edward Baldwin and Pamela (Green) Baldwin. Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Baldwin graduated No. 1 in her class from Madison West High School in 1980. After high school, she enrolled at Smith College in Massachusetts and majored in mathematics and government. Baldwin graduated in 1984 and received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1989. By that time, Baldwin had already started a career in public service. She was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors in 1986, representing Madison’s downtown area. That same year, she served a stint on the Madison Common Council.

After passing Wisconsin’s Board Bar of Examiners in 1989, Baldwin began practicing law in the state while continuing her service on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. Baldwin was elected to a fourth term on the board in 1992 and a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly. She simultaneously served her fourth and final term on the Board of Supervisors and first term in the Wisconsin Assembly, representing the state’s 78th Assembly District (including parts of Madison) from 1993 to 1994. She worked as an attorney until 1992.

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Baldwin was re-elected twice to Wisconsin’s Assembly (District 78), serving until January 1999, when she advanced to a higher legislative position and made national political history. In the 1998 election, Baldwin defeated Republican candidate Josephine Musser for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first woman from Wisconsin to serve in Congress and the second openly gay member of the House (after Barney Frank). 

More than a decade after becoming Wisconsin’s first congresswoman, Baldwin became the first openly gay politician elected to the U.S. Senate, beating Republican candidate Tommy Thompson in the November 2012 election. (She is also the first Wisconsin woman elected to the Senate.)

According to her official website, Baldwin’s mantra is ignore “the naysayers, the cynics, and the keepers of the status quo; [those who say] you can’t, you shouldn’t or you won’t.”

Personal Life

In the mid-1990s, Baldwin began dating Lauren Azar, who was appointed commissioner of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in 2007. The couple split in 2010, after nearly 15 years together, and just months after registering for domestic partnership in the state of Wisconsin.

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