Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Madison has become the first Democrat to run for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by the retirement of Senator Herb Kohl next year. In an on-line video, the 49 year-old Baldwin vowed to “stand up for you, no matter how tough the odds or how powerful the special interest.” She has been in the House since 1999, and was among the first in Congress to oppose the war in Iraq. In weekend media interviews, Baldwin said she’d work to cut the national debt, put people to work rebuilding schools and roads, close tax loopholes for sending jobs overseas, and support a repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Baldwin said it’s fair not the lower the debt “merely on the backs of the middle class.”
Baldwin has never run a statewide race, and she vows to do as much personal campaigning as possible to improve her name recognition. A recent poll said 54-percent of Wisconsin voters know who she is. Republican Mark Neumann fully expects her to be the Democratic nominee for Kohl’s seat after next fall’s primary. Neumann, a former congressman from Waukesha County, announced his Senate bid last week. Former Governor Tommy Thompson, state Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, and state Senator Frank Lasee of De Pere are also potential GOP candidates. La Crosse House Democrat Ron Kind and former Appleton House Democrat Steve Kagen are among the possible Democratic hopefuls. Baldwin’s candidacy also opens the door for state Assembly Democrats Mark Pocan and Kelda Helen Roys, both of Madison, to run for Baldwin’s House seat. Both were expected to announce their bids this week.