Tammy Baldwin Becomes First Openly Gay U.S. Senator With Win in Wisconsin

Tammy Baldwin - P 2012
Getty Images

The longtime congresswoman defeated the state's former governor, Tommy Thompson, making history in a wave election for women candidates.

Just eight years ago, gay marriage was used as a wedge issue in the presidential election. Now, Wisconsin has elected the first openly gay U.S. enator.

LIVE BLOG: Election Returns

Tammy Baldwin, a six-term member of Congress, edged out four-time governor Tommy Thompson to succeed retiring Senator Herb Kohl. It was the most expensive senate election in Wisconsin history, with more than $65 million spent in the state, including more than $30 million from outside goups.

Having claimed inspiration from Geraldine Ferraro's nomination for vice president on the Democratic ticket in 1984, Baldwin has framed her race in a similar way.

"I think in particular for young LGBT youth, especially those that come out in hostile communities or less supportive families and are thinking, 'What about my future?' " she recently told the U.K.'s Guardian. "They can wake up to a Tammy Baldwin victory on Nov. 7 and feel the way I did when Geraldine Ferraro accepted the nomination."