The first big Democratic name has entered the open Senate race in Wisconsin, with Rep. Tammy Baldwin declaring her candidacy Tuesday to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl in this high-profile swing state.
Baldwin announced her candidacy, which has been much expected since Kohl announced his retirement in May, with a YouTube video posted Tuesday morning.
Baldwin was first elected to the House in 1998, after serving in the state Assembly, and became the first openly gay candidate elected to Congress as a non-incumbent — and if elected to the Senate, she would become the first openly gay senator at all. After an initial close re-election race in 2000, she has won landslides for her House seat ever since.
The clincher for Baldwin’s candidacy may have come two weeks ago. Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D), who lost his seat in the 2010 Republican wave — and who polls had shown would be a runaway favorite in any Democratic primary — announced that he would not run for either the Senate seat or a potential gubernatorial recall in 2012.
Already in the race on the Republican side is former Rep. Mark Neumann, who narrowly lost the Senate race in 1998 and ran unsuccessfully in last year’s Republican primary for governor, and has the support of the right-wing Club For Growth. Also set to get in the race are former Gov. Tommy Thompson, and state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.