Every time I see Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin on TV, I forget she’s a politician. She doesn’t come across as one. She comes across as a friend or a neighbor who you turn to for good advice, someone who respects all points of view and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Is she too nice to be in the polarized Senate? Her House colleagues think she’s just right. And I suspect China doesn’t either. Last week she even introduced a bill with Wisconsin Republican freshman Reid Ribble to shield American manufacturers from unfair trade practices in low wage Asian countries. “American manufacturers deserve our full support in combating China’s relentless pattern of international trade law violations,” Baldwin said. “The simple fact is China cheats.”
And Wisconsin senior Senator Herb Kohl, who is retiring and has endorsed Tammy as his replacement, telling voters in his state that Tammy has strong convictions, a strong personality and “a tremendous drive to achieve things… she’s going to be a model senator, a standard of what we look for… the highest and best kind of public servant.”
Tammy is best known in Congress as one of the most dedicated and persistent fighters for economic justice. This month she got a great deal of press coverage when she introduced the Buffett Rule in the House. But on a day to day basis, she was working behind the scenes pushing legislative solutions for real people with real problems, usually efforts that didn’t get noticed by the public. One of her colleagues on the House Energy & Commerce Committee told me that during the debate over health care reform she would never let up on a provision to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance policies until they turn 26. I asked her what made her come up with that and what kind of push back she got from the Republicans on the committee?
Health care has always been a very personal issue for me. I was raised by my grandparents– my mother was too young to raise me when I was born– and they were there to take care of me. As a young child, I came down with a serious illness. Something like spinal meningitis. Though I made a full recovery, I had to spend three months in the hospital and many more after that in recovery care. But my grandparents, who had always relied on their family health insurance– a good plan for the time– came to soon learn that granddaughters are not considered dependents. Wife, yes. Daughter, yes. But no coverage for me, they were forced to pay out of pocket. And then to top it off, I was a child with a pre-existing condition.
So, I’m proud to have worked to ensure that more young people have access to insurance and affordable care. This includes the amendment I offered in committee to expand coverage for young adults, and also the work we did to eliminate pre-existing conditions for children, and soon adults. It also means that I’m a target. Let me tell you: the health insurance giants aren’t too fond of you when you take stances like these.
And the three corporate lobbyists masquerading as Republican candidates, Neumann, Thompson and Fitzgerald, have an entirely different vision than Tammy’s. It’s dark and it’s based on Ayn Rand’s Law of the Jungle politics. Only the strong survive. When I asked Tammy if her progressive vision is something that will work outside of Madison, in places like Waukesha and Ozaukee counties, she didn’t miss a beat.
I’ve fought for Wisconsin values and the middle class, and these just aren’t issues in Madison. I’ve had constituents in Beloit who’ve suffered as manufacturing jobs were shipped overseas to places like China.
I traveled much of the state over the summer during our state senate recalls and as I went from Ozaukee county to Eau Claire and all across Wisconsin people told me about the same struggles they were facing: making ends meet, finding work, and taking care of their children. So, this fight– this campaign– is about their struggle. I’m fighting so that they can have a little extra at the end of each month to save for their daughter’s college fund. And to make it easier for that the single dad in Appleton to find meaningful work so he can quit that second job and stay home with his son a few more hours each day. That’s something that resonates and people can relate to whether I’m in Dane County or Waukesha County.
If Tammy wins in November, she will be the first woman ever elected to the United States Senate from Wisconsin. And she’ll be the first openly LGBT senator ever… from anywhere. Blue America has only found three candidates this cycle we’re enthusiastic enough about to endorse for the Senate: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin. What a team! Please consider contributing what you can at the Blue America ActBlue Senate page. And please join us for a live discussion with Tammy at 1pm today (CST) in the comments section below.