Her campaign stationery says “Tammy Baldwin 2012.” But the text of the July 13 press release walks the U.S. House’s only openly lesbian member one step closer to an historic bid for a U.S. Senate seat:
“She is a likely candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI).”
That statement echoed a comment she made to the Capital Times newspaper in Madison July 2: “I think I am likely to run.”
If she does enter the race, Baldwin will become the first open lesbian to make a run for the U.S. Senate. (Ed Flanagan was the first openly gay person to run, losing to incumbent Senator Jim Jeffords in Vermont in 2000.) And clearly, Baldwin’s supporters are urging a bid.
According to the press release, Baldwin raised more than $435,000 in the month of June, the month after the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund reported sources close to Baldwin as saying she was eyeing the seat.
Kohl announced May 13 that he would retire, rather than run for re-election in 2012. Newspapers in Wisconsin immediately began identifying a list of potential candidates that included Baldwin. Others mentioned, on the Democratic side, include former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, who lost his re-election bid only last year to newcomer Republican Ron Johnson.
Feingold would be considered the Democrats’ strongest candidate because of his name recognition and long-time service in the Senate. A Public Policy Polling survey in May of 784 likely Democratic primary voters in Wisconsin found 70 percent supported Feingold for the seat; Baldwin came in second with 12 percent. Six other Democrats earned between one and five percent each.
“Remove Feingold from consideration,” said a Public Policy Polling press release May 27, “and the race becomes considerably more wide open, but Baldwin would start out with 30%….” Her closest competitors, according to the survey, would be former U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen with 17 percent and current Rep. Ron Kind with 16 percent.
Capital Times Executive Editor Paul Fanlund said, in a July 5 article, that Baldwin is “steaming toward a 2012 candidacy” for the Senate seat and “it almost seems the only person who could alter her course is former senator Russ Feingold….”
Feingold has said he would make an announcement of his intentions in September. But he urged other Democrats considering a bid to go ahead with their plans and not wait for his decision.
Baldwin told the Capital Times she thinks she would have to raise between $15 million and $20 million for a Senate race.
Her July 13 press release indicates that her July 15 quarterly report to the Federal Elections Commission shows she has raised $502,485 “for the second quarter” of the 2011-2012 election cycle. For the same second quarter in the previous election cycle (2009-2010), she reported raising $107,533.
At her July 15 quarterly in 2009, she had $561,563 cash-on-hand in her campaign coffers. Her press release this month says she has $1.1 million.