Tammy Baldwin, seven-term Congresswoman from Wisconsin became the first openly gay woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. A Democrat, Baldwin is considered by some to have populist concerns. As a House representative, she co-founded and co-chaired Congressional LGBT Equality. Will her election force the Senate to engage more with LGBT issues?
Baldwin defeated ex-Governor Tommy Thompson. Republican Thompson took a leave from politics for twelve years when he worked as a healthcare lobbyist. He served as Health Secretary in the Bush Administration.
Her Successor in House of Reps. Also Gay: Historic First
With Baldwin’s seat vacant in the Wisconsin’s 78th Assembly District, Mark Pocan who labels himself a Progressive, ran for Baldwin’s seat and won! Who is Mark Pocan from Kenosha, Wisconsin?
Summary of Pocan’s Service
Pocan, a University of Wisconsin graduate, was at Dane County’s Board of Supervisors where he served Madison’s downtown community for three terms until 1996. After college, he opened a small business “Budget Signs and Specialties” which he continues to own and run today.
In 1998, he ran to succeed Baldwin in Wisconsin’s 78th Assembly District and won. In a three-way Democratic primary in Wisconsin, he won with 54% of the vote. There was no Republican opposition in the general election and he won with 93% of the vote against the Independent. He won re-election in 2000,2002, 2004,2006, 2008, and 2010.
Long Legislative Career
He has served on Committee on Urban and Local Affairs, Committee on Colleges and Universities, Joint Survey.Com on Retirement Systems and Joint Finance Committee. He is one of the most outspoken progressive members of the State Assembly on corrections reform, the state budget, education funding and fighting privatization schemes. He authored and passed Compassionate Health Care for Rape Victims, passed affordable health prescriptions for Seniors, Home Health Care for Alzheimer’s patients, Health Care for Wisconsin Kids and American Jobs Act, which prohibits using state money to contract for services Abroad. He was opposed to Governor Scott Walker’s move to curtail union rights.
In the heavily Democratic, liberal, LGBT-friendly 2nd District, Pocan ran against Republican Chad Lee, a businessman running from Mt. Houb, Wisconsin.. Lee’s volunteer, Kyle Wood, a gay man, was assaulted in his own home. This incident was tabloid fodder. It remains questionable if it were a gay bashing, threat, or just a robbery.
Pocan’s Interest in LGBT Issues
After college graduation and his opening the Sign Store, he became active in the Madison LGBT community. Leaving a gay bar, he was followed by two men and beaten with a baseball bat. He is one of the only three LGBT members of State Assembly and is one of only three LGBT members of the Wisconsin State Legislature along side Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) and bisexual Representative Jocasta Zamarripa ( D- Milwaukee).
Pocan was married in 2006 to Philip Frank in Toronto. Their marriage is not recognized in Wisconsin.