In their words: Baldwin, Vukmir reflect on historic Senate race
Democrats win 55% of the vote in decisive victory
MADISON, Wis. — Democrat Tammy Baldwin secured control of her Senate seat in a double-digit victory over Republican Leah Vukmir.
It was a decisive victory in a state that helped carry President Donald Trump to victory on election night two years ago, with Baldwin winning 55 percent of the vote to Vukmir’s 45 percent.
Late Tuesday, appearing in front of supporters who packed the Monona Terrace Convention Center, Baldwin said that two years ago, “experts said this race was not winnable” and special interests were “trying to kick her out for standing up for Wisconsinites.”
“Across our state, Democrats, Republicans, Independents sent a loud and clear message that wanted a senator who works not for the special interests, but someone who works for you,” said Baldwin.
She said she will continue to work to protect the rights of people living with pre-existing conditions to have affordable health insurance, to get better trade deals for farmers, and to do right by workers and veterans.
Baldwin thanked her supporters, including many younger supporters who she said pushed her to victory.
“This election has taught me that when young people speak out and refuse to accept students losing their lives to gun violence at school, we will make a difference,” said Baldwin.
“Everywhere that I’ve gone in our beautiful state, I have been moved by the goodness of our people,” said Baldwin. “We hold a deep commitment to community, neighbors helping neighbors, and in Wisconsin, we believe we are all in this together.”
Baldwin’s campaign focused overwhelmingly on local issues, like her fight against unfavorable regulation for the state’s dairy farmers and her work to combat the opioid crisis. She is a proud proponent of Medicare-for-all, and she now serves as an example of a Democrat who can win re-election in a Midwestern swing state during the Trump era of politics.
“In Wisconsin, we understand that America will only be made stronger when our political debate becomes more about issues and less about knocking each other down,” said Baldwin. “We truly must start working together to lift each other up.”
The election was called for Baldwin, just four minutes after polls closed Tuesday night. Vukmir called Baldwin shortly after she received the news.
Vukmir said she too ran an issues-focused campaign, tackling veterans issues and health care, while focusing on her own successes.
“We ran hard and we ran as underdogs,” said Vukmir. “And we knew that all along.”
Vukmir said she called Baldwin overnight to concede what she called “a hard-fought race.”
“While it’s a difficult night, as I know it’s difficult for all of you as it is for me, I wouldn’t change anything over the past few months,” said Vukmir.
This race was historic: it was the first time two women in Wisconsin emerged as major party candidates for the U.S. Senate.
Throughout her general election campaign, Baldwin appeared well-positioned to win another term in the Senate. She consistently led in public polls and out-raised Vukmir, a state senator, by a large margin. Through mid-October, Baldwin raised $29 million, while Vukmir raised $5 million.
Vukmir thanked her supporters for not letting those numbers get them down.
“While we may have been outspent, we were never outworked,” said Vukmir.
Health care and the fight to protect pre-existing conditions served as a major focus during the Senate campaign. Baldwin says that during her second term, she will work to “fix” and “improve” the Affordable Care Act. Vukmir had said that, if she won, she would have been the deciding vote to repeal that law.
Even with Baldwin’s victory, Republicans’ control of the Senate will grow by at least two seats and by as many as five.
Baldwin was first elected to the Senate in November 2012, making history as the first woman from Wisconsin sent to the Senate. She’s served in elected office in Wisconsin since 1986, when she was 24 years old. Baldwin has also broken barriers as the first openly gay U.S. senator.
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