Metro Weekly

Tammy Baldwin named fourth-ranking Senate Democrat

Baldwin's selection as Conference Secretary makes her the first out LGBT member of Senate leadership

Tammy Baldwin

Tammy Baldwin – Photo: U.S. Senate.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) has been named a member of the U.S. Senate Democratic leadership team following the caucus’ recent elections. Her elevation to the No. 4 position of Senate Democratic Conference Secretary makes her the first openly LGBT person in Senate leadership and the second-highest ranking Democratic woman, behind Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), who was named to the No. 3 spot of Assistant Democratic Leader. 

Democrats chose Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) as their Minority Leader, who will be replacing the retiring Sen. Harry Reid (Nev.). Other members of Democrats’ leadership include Minority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Joe Manchin (W.V.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Mark Warner (Va.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who was named the party’s Chair of Outreach.

Democrats are hoping that Warren and Sanders, in particular, can help shape their party’s message and increase its appeal, particularly on economic issues, among the party’s more progressive members.

The elevation of Baldwin, who is still in her first term, to the party’s leadership team is an interesting decision. Baldwin is 54 years old, making her relatively young compared to the rest of the Senate, and represents a Midwestern swing state that Democrats must win in order to remain competitive. She also brings diversity as an out lesbian, and as one of the more liberal members of the caucus. But Baldwin will also have to tread carefully: she is up for re-election in 2018, a midterm year when Democratic-leaning voters typically don’t show up at the polls.

“I’m proud to have an opportunity to be a part of our leadership team as Senate Democrats and our country move forward,” Baldwin said in a statement released via Twitter. “Too many Americans feel like they are being left behind. We need to change that and I am focused on making a difference in people’s everyday lives.

“One thing is clear, the Republican establishment now owns Washington. Corporate lobbyists, big banks, and Wall Street are calling the shots and writing the rules to make a rigged system work for them,” Baldwin added. “I have never been afraid to stand up to these powerful interests in Washington and I will continue my fight for the people of Wisconsin to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com