Wisconsin’s Gay Watershed

Oct 22 2012 @ 2:17pm

GT BALDWIN 121019

Tammy Baldwin, on the brink of becoming the first openly gay senator in US history, is narrowly ahead of Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin. Dave Weigel wonders why no one seems to be talking about it:

In my long weekend canvass of Wisconsin, I utterly failed to find any voters who factored Baldwin’s sexual preference into their votes. In a state that gave a 59 percent "yes" vote to a 2006 gay marriage ban, there’s no palpable backlash against a well-known gay candidate….

It’s more than a nonissue. There’s no upside for the Republicans who talk about it. In early September, Thompson’s political director sent out an email with video of Baldwin dancing at a gay pride parade. "Clearly, there is no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy," he wrote. Thompson promised to demote him. It’s not clear whether or not he actually did. Just as importantly, though, the Baldwin campaign blew off the story, letting Thompson get sucked into a media shame cycle. "This is the time of year we usually start seeing people getting hit with anonymous fliers and smears in the mail," says Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, who promotes gay candidates. Baldwin, in her first Assembly race, was one of the first endorsees; the PAC has given $16,400 to her Senate campaign. "This year has been remarkable for the absence of that."

(Photo: Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin speaks on the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. By Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)