Tammy Baldwin lightens the mood before the start of the first senatorial… (Gary Porter / Milwaukee…)
WASHINGTON – The Democratic candidate for Senate in Wisconsin seized victory after a hard-fought race reflecting the partisan divide that has become Badger State politics.
Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison emerged from a standoff against Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson to become the first openly gay member of the Senate. The Associated Press and NBC News projected that she would win the race.
Thompson, the Health and Human Services secretary under former President George W. Bush, could not overcome the steep challenge from Baldwin, a seven-term representative, in one of the most expensive Senate races in the nation.
In a state that has been a central battleground for the nation’s labor union fights and, now, the presidential campaign, the Senate race has been little different.
More than $45 million in outside spending poured into the race, with Democrats and their allies in the labor unions backing Baldwin, and Republicans with the Karl Rove-affiliated Crossroads groups helping Thompson, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The two candidates raised $20 million combined.
The seat was targeted by both parties after longtime Sen. Herb Kohl, a Democrat, announced his retirement.
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