Baldwin to join Johnson in U.S. Senate

GREEN BAY — As the election itself becomes history, a clearer picture is coming into focus regarding the Wisconsin races.

One of the biggest statewide races was for who would take over retiring Democratic Senator Herb Kohl's U.S. Senate seat.

Democratic congresswoman Tammy Baldwin edged out Republican and former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, giving him his first-ever statewide election loss.

Baldwin now joins Republican Ron Johnson as the state's two senators – both on opposite sides of the political spectrum.

So how and why did the race shake out like it did?

"People in Wisconsin got to know Tammy Baldwin," explained Nancy Nusbaum, who is with the Brown County Democratic Party.

Nusbaum – who says she also worked on the 2012 Baldwin campaign – says she hoped Baldwin would benefit from riding the Democratic presidential coattails, scoring her the seat up for grabs.

"But at one point I joked, that perhaps Tammy was the one that was going to provide the coattails to President Obama," explained Nusbaum about when early poll results were coming in giving Baldwin an early advantage.

And Nusbaum says Baldwin clearly benefited from running in 2012, opposed to the last Senate race in 2010.

That's when businessman Ron Johnson defeated Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold by about 105,000 votes.

In that race, Johnson carried Northeast Wisconsin counties - like Brown and Outagamie – by a decent margin over Feingold; while Feingold carried Milwaukee and Dane counties, which usually vote Democrat.

In 2012, Baldwin defeated Thompson by about 160,000 votes.

While, Thompson won Brown and Outagamie counties by small margins, Baldwin received huge vote totals in Milwaukee and Dane counties.

"The Democratic Party had an incredible ground game," said Mark Graul, a Republican campaign strategist and founder of Arena Strategy Group in Green Bay.

Graul says Baldwin was helped by Thompson having to endure a tough four-way Republican primary.

"(Baldwin) owned the airwaves for four weeks [after the GOP primary and I think, they had some very well done, well-produced ads that caused a lot of people to change their opinion about Thompson."

In an interview Wednesday, Baldwin said she looked forward to working with Senator Johnson.

“I think one of the messages from the election yesterday was that people are rejecting gridlock and I hope that all the people who have the honor of serving in the next session of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have heard that message,” said Baldwin.

A sentiment Senator Johnson echoed in a release Wednesday morning.

"I congratulate Tammy Baldwin on her election victory,” said the release. “I stand ready to collaborate with Senator-elect Baldwin to help Wisconsinites grapple with federal red tape, promote our great state and develop real solutions to address the many challenges facing America.

Baldwin will be sworn into her seat early next year.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Wisconsin (change)

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin’s population totaled 5,686,986, a 6.0% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census count of 5,363,715. (Source: Wisconsin Blue Book)
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Governor: Scott Walker
Lieutenant Governor: Rebecca Kleefisch
Attorney General: J.B. Van Hollen

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