By Corrine Hicks
Tammy Baldwin is running for a seat in Congress as a representative from Wisconsin.
The hallmark of her service in elective office has been her commitment to represent individuals and groups which have historically lacked a voice in the political process. For over a decade, as an elected official in the state of Wisconsin, Ms. Baldwin, a Democrat, has worked to advance the civil rights of women, people with disabilities, people in poverty, gays and lesbians, and people of color.
Her 2-term record, however, is now under fire by her Republican opponent, Ron Greer, an aspirant who boasts he's "a committed Christian" and has raised political hackles in the state by accusing Ms. Baldwin of being "a left wing lesbian" with a "radical agenda."
At 35, State Representative Tammy Baldwin is the youngest woman in the Wisconsin Legislature. She also made state history by becoming the first openly gay or lesbian member of the Legislature.
Other Republican candidates from Wisconsin, including Don Carrig, are deploring Ron Greer's "hate" tactics. Carrig has called for a bipartisan pledge to be signed by campaigners, one that says "No to Hate."
Another GOP contender, Jo Musser also rebuked Greer, saying, " I strongly abhor this kind of campaigning. I was raised Christian. I'm Christian. The God I was raised with loves everybody."
Greer, a fireman from Madison, insists: "I don't have to sign a no-hate statement. There's nothing in my background and nothing in my activities that would say anything about hate at all." He balks at suggestions that he is a single issue candidate.
"What I'm criticizing is her homosexual political agenda," claims Greer, "that's totally different. That's something I think is fair game." Greer's fund-raising letter said "1998 could be the first time in American history that a left-wing lesbian is elected to Congress."
Even Democratic contenders for Congress are speaking out against Greer's attack on Baldwin. Rick Phelps plans, he says, to send a letter to the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, asking him to reject Greer's candidacy.
No matter whether Greer's appeal to intolerance gets acceptance in Christian fundamentalist circles, the state's Republican analysts doubt that Republican Greer's gambits will persuade Wisconsin voters to take his side in the campaign.
One analyst, Bill Kraus, said "Certainly there is a segment that's putting up billboards and believes in things like intolerance. I have no idea how big it is or how rich it is. But I'd be very surprised if that were productive in this district."
Tammy Baldwin graduated from Smith College (Northampton, Massachusetts) in 1984 with majors in mathematics and political science. She earned her J.D. in 1989 at the University of Wisconsin - Law School (Madison, Wisconsin).
Her involvement as an elected official began in 1986, when she was elected to the Dane County Board of Supervisors. Baldwin served four terms as a County Supervisor. While on the Board, she chaired the Human Services Board for three years and established and served as chair of the Dane county Task force on AIDS.
Baldwin's response to bipartisan support in the hate campaign against her has been appreciative. "I am pleased that so many people have spoken out against the divisive politics of intolerance that we have seen inserted into the campaign that should focus on issues that affect peoples' lives, like health care and education," she said.
In 1992, Baldwin was elected State Representative for the 78th Assembly District which includes central and south Madison.
In her first term in the Assembly, she was appointed as Chairwoman of the Assembly Committee on Elections, Constitutional Law and Corrections. Tammy Baldwin was re-elected in 1994 to a second two year term. She now serves on the Colleges and Universities, Criminal Justice and Corrections, Education, housing, and Law revisions Committees. Additionally, she holds a seat on the State council on Alcohol and other Drug Abuse.