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Tammy Baldwin Seeks First Female Democratic U.S. Senate Nomination in Wisconsin History

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Baldwin vies to become the second woman to receive a major party nod in a Badger State U.S. Senate contest joining Republican Susan Engeleiter

tammybaldwin10.jpgAfter a 2010 election cycle in which female candidates across the country set statewide and party-wide records in U.S. Senate elections, Wisconsin may get into the act in 2012 as Democratic U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin announced to supporters she would run for retiring Herb Kohl's seat.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party has yet to nominate a woman for a U.S. Senate race across 36 general and special elections dating back to its first popular vote contest 97 years ago in 1914.

If nominated, Representative Baldwin would become the second female major party U.S. Senate nominee in Badger State history, joining 1988 Republican nominee Susan Engeleiter.

Engeleiter lost to Herb Kohl by 4.6 points that cycle with 47.5 percent of the vote in the open seat race to replace the retiring Democrat William Proxmire.

An additional 12 U.S. Senate general election campaigns were launched by female independent and third party candidates in Wisconsin over the last 100 years.

The best showing of these dozen candidates came in 2006, when Wisconsin Green Party nominee Rae Vogeler won 2.0 percent of the vote, placing third out of four candidates in the last race won by Kohl.

Only one other woman has eclipsed the 1 percent mark in a Wisconsin U.S. Senate race - the first female to appear on a general election ballot in the state.

In 1926, Ella Sanford won 1.8 percent of the vote for the Prohibition Party, placing sixth out of seven candidates.

In between Sanford and Vogeler another 10 candidacies were launched, including four by perennial candidate Georgia Cozzini: running for the Senate in 1946, a special election in 1957, 1958, and 1962.

Cozzini was also the Socialist Labor candidate for governor of Wisconsin five times: in 1942, 1944, 1948, 1970, and 1974 and the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Socialist Labor Party with Presidential nominee Eric Haas in 1956 (coming in 5th place with 44,300 votes, or 0.07 percent) and 1960 (3rd place, 47,522 votes, 0.07 percent).

Overall, women made slight inroads in U.S. Senate races in the Upper Midwest in 2010 when Roxanne Conlin won the Democratic nomination in Iowa.

Although Conlin notched only 33.3 percent of the vote, it was the best showing by a woman in Hawkeye State U.S. Senate electoral history - 6.1 points better than Democrat Jean Lloyd Jones performed in 1992.

Conlin also holds the record for the best performance by a woman in an Iowa gubernatorial contest.

Other women setting state records for female U.S. Senate candidates in 2010 were:

· Republican Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, winning 60.0 percent to best the previous record of 51.6 percent by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in 2006.

· Republican Sharron Angle in Nevada, notching 44.6 percent of the vote and eclipsing Democrat Mary Gojack's 37.4 percent mark in 1980.

· Republican Christine O'Donnell in Delaware, winning 40.0 percent to surpass Republican M. Jane Brady's 35.8 percent tally from 1990.

Carly Fiorina of California (42.2 percent) and Linda McMahon of Connecticut (43.2 percent) also set state GOP records as each was the first female nominated by the Republican Party in a U.S. Senate race in their respective state's history.

While Baldwin had long been considered a favorite to jump into the Wisconsin Senate race ever since Kohl announced his retirement earlier this year, it is not yet known whether or not she faces a clear path to the nomination.

Current Democratic Congressman Ron Kind would likely be Baldwin's strongest primary opponent should he enter the race.

Female U.S. Senate General Election Candidacies in Wisconsin

Year
Candidate
Party
Percent
Place
# Candidates
2006
Rae Vogeler
Wisconsin Green
2.0
3
4
1988
Susan Engeleiter
Republican
47.5
2
5
1988
Patricia Grogan
Socialist Workers
0.1
4
5
1986
Margo Storsteen
Socialist Workers
0.2
4
5
1980
Susan L. Hagen
Socialist Workers
0.3
5
5
1970
Elizabeth Boardman
Independent 
0.2
4
6
1970
Martha M. Quinn
Socialist Workers
0.0
5
6
1962
Georgia Cozzini
Independent
0.2
4
5
1958
Georgia Cozzini
Socialist Labor
0.0
4
4
1957
Georgia Cozzini
Socialist Labor
0.1
5
5
1946
Georgia Cozzini
Socialist Labor
0.2
4
4
1934
Fern Robbins
Communist
0.2
5
6
1926
Ella Sanford
Prohibition
1.8
6
7
Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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1 Comment


  • Tammy Baldwin would also be the first openly LGBT person to be nominated for the Senate in Wisconsin. Should she win she would also be the first openly gay or lesbian US Senator, ever. It would be interesting to see a blog post on how LGBT candidates have fared in federal elections throughout history. A shorter list, to be sure.

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