Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a defiantly liberal six-term Democrat from Madison, Wis., edged out Republican challenger Tommy Thompson to become the first openly gay person to serve in the U.S. Senate.
Riding a wave of Democratic victories on Tuesday night, Baldwin won with 51.4 percent of the vote to Thompson’s 48.6 percent, according to Real Clear Politics. Though Thompson enjoyed more name recognition in the state—he is a four-term governor and served as George W. Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services—Baldwin’s enthusiastic support of affordable healthcare, women’s rights and other progressive causes swung the electorate her way.
She also becomes Wisconsin’s first female Senator, but insisted in her victory speech that the election wasn’t about historical precedent. “I didn’t run to make history, I ran to make a difference. A difference in the lives of students worried about debt and seniors worried about their retirement security,” she told a crowd of about 1,000 supporters, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Tonight, at the end of a long and hard-fought campaign, we have won a huge victory for Wisconsin’s middle class.”
As Baldwin joins the Senate, her vacant House seat will be filled by openly gay Rep. Mark Pocan, giving Wisconsin two gay representatives in Congess.