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Les-Be-Honest Punditry (with Sen. Tammy Baldwin)

June 18, 2023
Notes
Transcript

Sen. Tammy Baldwin joins Tim and Sarah to breakdown her lifetime of firsts as an openly gay politician, her coming out story in the 80s, the art of being both progressive and bipartisan, and an assessment of Wisconsin politics heading into 2024.

Plus, Tim and Sarah dissect JVL’s Triad … without him present!

Watch Tim and Sarah interview Sen. Baldwin here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEitt5qu0sw

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:08

    Hello, and welcome to the Bulwark Next Level Sunday Show. I’m Tim Miller with my bestie, Sarah Longwell. It’s a gay pride lesbian extravaganza. We have Tammy Baldwin. And we talk about being a lesbian in the nineteen eighties on an elected lesbian in
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:25

    the eighties, which is insane. We talked about Kenosha. We talked about A Republican colleagues, Mike Gallagher, any other takeaway, Sarah?
  • Speaker 3
    0:00:32

    I’d appreciate you some good punditing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:34

    I’d be — plan to that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:35

  • Speaker 3
    0:00:35

    talking to us about why Mandela lost in Wisconsin, which an explanation I had not thought of or heard. So, no, she was great. She was great. And I have admired her for a long time, and so it was awesome to me, Bert. So far I’m only doing the lesbian shows, which is starting to feel a little token y, you know?
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:49

    We’ll try to get you on with the homosexual, or maybe we’ll invite someone on that’s heterosexual at some point though, lame. Okay, we’ll get to Tammy Next. I want to do a quick little bit with you JBL’s in here this week, and so that’d be fun for our topper To talk about JBL’s triad which I’m sure you read. Earlier this week, it was Wednesday’s triad if you miss it, you can go back and find it. Headline is it’s morning in Joe Biden’s America, very subtle.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:15

    I’ll just sum it up really quick for people that didn’t read it and then I just You know, to just imitate JBL, I’m just gonna put a quarter in and listen to you riff about it. I thought we could kind of talk behind his back a little bit. So JBL’s pitch here. For some reason, he must have a good night’s sleep or something, I don’t know, or maybe eating gummies because he was being positive for once. Alright.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:34

    He says that we whipped inflation, maybe a little overstated, but inflation is down year over year, and it’s moving the right direction in Jerome Powell. This week did not raise rates for the first time which is a sign that the feds feeling like things are good on that front or getting getting better on that front, maybe. Manufacturing jobs are up above even above their pre COVID level. Wage growth has now bounced back since running ahead of inflation for the first time since you know, the inflation spike, that is good news. He does note there are some areas where inflation is still persistent, particularly cars, and fruits and vegetables, and I’ve noticed you get nuts, but I don’t see it on here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:10

    Nuts are very expensive right now, weirdly. He also mentions on his puppy dogs and ice cream list that The rule of law is holding up, Joe Biden is acting appropriately even though people are saying that this is a banana republic, the courts are doing their job, and even some Republicans are starting to act normal, Bill Barr. He compliment Aisha Hutchinson’s campaign, so JBL’s pitch is that like, Things are kinda going great, everybody who is catastrophizing but, Biden’s landing the plane on the economy, the Republicans are still crazy, but but maybe nudge in the right direction and and that we should all just enjoy our summer. Sarah?
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:46

    Yeah. I had skipped the triad.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:48

    Oh, no way.
  • Speaker 3
    0:02:49

    In part because I was like, oh JBL’s doing Biden Santick. This is fine. I don’t need to read this one. Like, I know what he’s I know what he’s gonna say. I ended up going back and and reading it, and he’s making a compelling case.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:00

    You know, like JBL’s doing a good job of sort of bringing together in aggregate, the good news. And putting it out there. But you know who’s not doing that particularly effectively?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:09

    I have a guess.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:09

    The Biden Administration. Right. Like, if this was Donald Trump’s and he was working with these statistics here, he would be out there you know, throwing t shirts to the crowd saying, best economy for black people, best economy for women. We’re destroying China. And just crowing and crying and crying.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:29

    And I I think to some degree, it could be to Joe Biden’s credit that he’s a bit of a low key guy when it comes to crowing about accomplishments. And yet, I was just in Iowa yesterday. I was there with Judy Woodruff and PBS I was my reading
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:43

    All the news was good at this focus group. Everybody was just ready to go back to Joe Biden’s normal centrist future. Was that what you’re hearing from the voters?
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:52

    Wanna talk about catastrophizing. Like, they think the economy is in the toilet, gas prices are astronomically high, cost of housing, astronomically high, Everybody cited the economy and open borders as the reason for weapons were very, very
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:05

    bad.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:05

    And now listen. I understand, two time Trump voters. These are not the people lining to give Joe Biden credit. This is a thing about Americans for whatever reason. We don’t like to think that things are as good as they are.
  • Speaker 3
    0:04:17

    There are lots of people who are still feeling the pinch of inflation. It’s true that inflation is down, but it is still up, you know, in terms of relatively from four years ago, and this is gonna be Trump’s big pitch. And this is what people were saying in the focus group, they’re like, it was better, basically, before COVID when Trump was running things. Like, that economy was on fire and that was great. And so I think they need to go out there and make this pitch really hard.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:39

    Yeah. I basically agree with that. On the first part and I think that they’re doing better lately. They’ll buy in White House. You can always keep doing better?
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:46

    But just in this conversation we had with senator Baldwin is a great example of this. I mean, she’s working on a bipartisan thing with Vance right now, which they also did chips, infrastructure. We talked a link about the gay marriage deal, and it’s just like, You forget? I mean, I I literally, I mean, I’m gay and was excited about the gay marriage thing and I can’t forget about it. There isn’t like a consistent effort to be like, oh hey, remember these five, bipartisan things that everybody likes that we did, you know, and bang them into the ground, like that element of that is still just not where it needs to be, the inflation part, it was my net pack with JBL.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:21

    I mean, I get where it’s coming from. It’s good for those of us who are financially secure, It’s good. Right? It’s like things are moving in the right direction. It’s still a little annoying when you go to a grocery store.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:32

    I was there yesterday. I was like, I don’t remember my building this hot. Right? You know, because Flation being down doesn’t mean it’s deflation. It just means that the inflation baseline is still the baseline.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:42

    Right? And so if your budget is tighter, Like it’s still tight, it’s still stressful, that’s stressful. And so that I think is the part that in addition to Biden’s age, it’s kind of driving his number being not where they are. That said, if it is true that we get to twenty twenty four without a recession. I That’s kind of unbelievable.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:03

    And, like, literally, every expert my my father’s in finance. Right? So I was talking about to him about this. We’re we had a brief beach vacation, which is why I was off the podcast last week, and he was like, every expert I talked to, forget politics. Like all of my, like finance experts are all like, we have to have a recession.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:18

    Any time this happens, we have a recession. Right? Like that inflation gets to this level and that, you know, you have this sort of disruption. So we avoid that. And that is pretty as I, Joe Biden as a magic avoid recession one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:29

    But like, you know, the Powell by, you know, all of that is like pretty remarkable, and and they do deserve credit report, and that’s the side of the JBL thing I think that is right. It’s like, but you gotta figure out how do you message that to people who still are feeling the pinch a little
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:42

    Well, and it’s a tricky one there because I think you have to tell people good news when you have it. At the same time, you have to be very careful not to be, like, a recession definitely isn’t gonna happen. Let’s celebrate.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:53

    Right.
  • Speaker 3
    0:06:53

    Because this thing is, like, we’ve been living on the brink for a long time. And if it goes south, don’t wanna take in a premature victory lap on that. That would be very bad. So I’m always on them about their communication. I think that it’s hard for them, so I don’t think Joe Biden’s really effective messenger I think that they should be flooding things with surrogates, which I just feel like they have never quite done for whatever reason.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:13

    That said, it’s gotta be really hard because, you know, we talk about all the time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:17

    Donald fucking Trump.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:18

    Donald Trump. Because the dude keeps getting indicted and so, like, JBL’s writing this the day after then president of the United States gets historically indicted for the second time. And I appreciate JBL’s valiant effort to talk to our centrist people about this. But at the end of the day, like, it’s hard to break through. It’s hard to break through if you’re a twenty twenty four challenger and it’s hard to break through if you’re Joe by because none of us can stop watching the Trump insane show.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:44

    Have you done swing groups at all? Or are we just primary time? We’re totally in MAGA world.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:48

    Yeah. I haven’t done a swing group in a really long time, and it’s bad. I need to get back to it. Yeah. Although my favorite comments I get from people are, like, stop doing the Trump groups.
  • Speaker 3
    0:07:57

    You know. You already need to stop doing it. I’m like
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:00

    We don’t know. They’ve changed a lot, actually.
  • Speaker 4
    0:08:02

    We don’t go. We don’t know.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:04

    You know, and this Iowa focus group was pretty interesting. I asked people one of the guys that voted for Barack Obama, he was talking about how much he regretted that. And I asked a question of how many of them felt like they’d gotten more conservative over the last few years, and everybody like, that they just feel more committed all the time. I mean, the tribalism, we are. It is pushing people literally, the springs comes up over in a hurry where one of the women said, we’re not going back.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:29

    Right.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:30

    And what they mean is this Trump direction of the Republican Party like that is where they wanna go. Everybody was super clear about that. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:37

    I do wanna see some swing groups. The two things I’ve been the most interested in, well, besides the Trump Ron DeSantis saying, the two other things? Is one this r f k thing, I wanted to get under the r f k numbers and be like, are those actually Democrats? Are there people that are just Madora Biden’s age like Wise in the high teens? And a poll just came out today, I kind of answered this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:54

    Right? It’s like forty percent of Republicans have a favorable view of them and twenty percent of Democrats do and so I’m still kind of intrigued who that twenty percent is, so that’s one area I wanna go down, but the other thing is just this swing group. The fundamental question is, when Biden’s numbers are bad with swing voters, is that He seems too old to do this job, or is that I feel economically insecure still about inflation? Or is it both? And the old thing is kind of like, If it ends up being Trump, that’s not gonna be an issue.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:22

    If it’s the latter, that’s more of a concern. So anyway, I’m giving you an assignment boss, do a swing group and answer that question for me.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:28

    I’ll get right on it, man.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:29

    Okay. Up next is senator Tammy Baldwin. You’re gonna enjoy this one. We’ll be back on Wednesday as you can see when you watch the Tammy Baldwin interview. Sarah is looking very youthful and sun kissed because she is on a brief holiday.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:42

    So on Wednesday, we’re gonna have Amanda Carpenter on the next level, and then we’ll get back to your normal next level we schedule. So enjoy Tammy Baldwin. Thank you, Sarah Longwell, our friends at Assetongue. Hello and welcome to the Borg’s next level Sunday podcast. I’m your host, Tim Miller.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:17

    It’s another special gay pride edition, all gays. I am lucky to be here with my bestie Sarah Longwell. And the only lesbian full lesbian, I guess, Christian Cinema halfway there in the Senate? Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. Thank you so much for taking the time, Senator.
  • Speaker 4
    0:10:34

    I’m delighted to.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:36

    Sarah, I wanna put you on the spot here. You have a little story. You guys have a connection that maybe the sender might not be aware of.
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:42

    Oh, well, certainly she remembers the time that we met back in twenty twelve. Certainly.
  • Speaker 4
    0:10:47

    Oh, I don’t know if it
  • Speaker 3
    0:10:47

    was actually a gay event But it was when you were first running, for senator, you may know this about Tim, but we were both active Republicans in those days. And so you were the very first Democrat. I introduced myself to you, and I said, you’re the first Democrat I’ve ever donated to. And I was very excited about there being a lesbian, potentially, who could win the senate’s And now I give to Democrats all the time, because then Trump happened. But it was a real novelty when we first met.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:15

    Do you hear from many lesbian Republicans that donated to you and that’s gotta be a pretty short list?
  • Speaker 4
    0:11:20

    I do know a few, not a whole lot.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:25

    On a start, I I list a couple of your other podcasts, and I gotta tell you I was pretty well briefed on your political life, but I was kinda surprised a little bit about your origin story, if you will. So I was just wondering maybe you’d share that with some of our listeners who are in my boat who didn’t know kind of about your childhood and health issues growing up in Wisconsin and I’d love just to hear a little, you know, just give us the a little nickel tour of your of your youth in Wisconsin.
  • Speaker 4
    0:11:49

    Absolutely. So I was Warren in Madison, Wisconsin, raised by my maternal grandparents. My mother struggled with both mental illness and physical illness, and I was so very fortunate that my grandparents were there for me. My grandfather was a professor at the University of Wisconsin. My grandmother thought she was an empty nester with both of her daughters, you know, out of the home, and she had gone to work at the university all so managing the costume lab at the theater department and teaching a lot of courses, etcetera.
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:21

    So I have these childhood images of being at my grandfather’s laboratory, he’s a biochemist, and then my grandmother’s costume lab, a very different type of laboratory. He will. But you’re right. One of the formative things in my early life was a very serious childhood illness at age nine. And I was in the hospital for three months, and my grandparents had insurance, but didn’t cover grandchildren.
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:45

    You know, you’re not a legal dependent. And then as I got better, fully recovered, they said let’s fix this. Let’s get our health insurance. And you know, back then, if you were somebody with a preexisting health condition, no insurance company had to cover you. And so I basically they couldn’t find any insurance at any price.
  • Speaker 4
    0:13:06

    And so it wasn’t until I was in college that I had a health policy It was formative also in the way that I just felt that was wrong when I actually learned the story, because I can tell you when I was sick, my grandparents did not burden me with their worries, they were just there rallying by my side. But it became the issue that convinced me I wanna change things, and I wanna have a role in in changing healthcare policy. And so that’s what brought me to the public service. And first, the county board, which believe it or not actually dealt with some health policies back in the day. And then this progression from state level to national level office where I’ve been able to I think make a real difference on that particular issue.
  • Speaker 3
    0:13:52

    You know, when I was reading your bio, I was struck by the fact that you basically went, what you went to college sniff, by the way, which is like pretty on the nose. And then went to law school, and then immediately ran for office. Right? Was there any time in between? So
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:05

    Yeah. I took like a gap year between college and law school. The jobs that I had were in state government. I was working in the governor’s office and working on the issue of pay equity, equal pay for equal work, which there were some local initiatives to get the house in order both in state government, but also local government. And I just remember this so vividly, I was a first year law student and my county board representative announced that she was going to retire.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:35

    Now, I’m living right on campus at the time. And so when I say retire, she was, like, in her mid twenties and
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:41

    she
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:41

    didn’t wanna live on campus anymore after she had graduated. So So anyways, I was like, oh, wow. There’s a real opportunity here. And I remember talking to one of my professors saying that I was thinking about this and gave me this really stern look. He said, you know, you could be a great lawyer if you applied yourself.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:01

    And then there was this silence. And then this twinkle in his eye, and he said, but if you insist on running for county board, you’ll have my full support. Oh my god, guys. Apply yourself. But It’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:12

    not exactly like you’re trying to take a job as a professional video game player or something. I mean, it was still the county board, not nothing, you know, not layering, I guess.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:21

    This professor had a real impact on me. He was like, you know, when you’re in law school, there are all these large lecture courses, but they try to give you one small course. So he was my small group professor, civil procedure. But he had, in his day, done an internship in a US Senator’s office. And I wasn’t talking about running to US senate by the way.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:41

    I was talking about running for county board. But he had the bug, and he absolutely understood why I was passionate about it and and was very encouraging.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:49

    Okay. Well, before we get into politics, I wanna continue down the you know, first date path here a little bit and anybody that’s been on a gay first date knows that you’ve got to cover this, so You were coming out in Wisconsin and what? The early eighties? I I kinda that go, how did your family? Take that or maybe late eighties, I wanna improperly age you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:10

    But before it was quite common, I would think, in Wisconsin. So talk about that experience.
  • Speaker 4
    0:16:15

    Yeah. So I came out while I was in college, junior year, kinda had super big crush, sort of fell in love for the first time. And so as you heard, I went to college out of state Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, but always knew that I was coming home after college because my grandparents raised me. They were advancing in years. In fact, my grandfather passed away between my junior and senior year college, and I wanted to be back in in Wisconsin to be with my grandmother in case she needed me.
  • Speaker 4
    0:16:46

    Turns out she didn’t really need meat for many, many years. She was feisty independent, very healthy, but I felt I needed to come back home, you know, so coming out to her and coming out to all of my high school friends who you know, I was away when I was coming out and wasn’t telling them in real time. So sitting down with each of them, I couldn’t be more fortunate with the reaction that I got. The one friend who was really mad at me was just mad at me for not telling her earlier. Like, wait, what’s this about?
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:16

    Sarah is that person for me, actually. Sarah was mad at me. She was upset. She heard second in the office. That was her big complaint.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:23

    I was. I was mad at him.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:25

    Absolutely, and so I was very fortunate in. I chose my friends well, and my mother was very supportive. In fact, my mother had more gay friends in Madison than I did, which was she’s like, but I didn’t necessarily wanna hang out with her gay friends. They were a generation older than me. Fair.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:43

    But but all of that said, I did have that time where I was interested in politics, interested in potentially running for office, and had that moment of, wow, can I actually do this if I’m out?
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:59

    Right.
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:59

    Do I have to make a choice between being out or pursuing my aspirations, my my dreams? And there were some people who had broken that barrier in Wisconsin prior to that. And so as I was like exploring running for office and working on other people’s campaigns. I met Dick Wagner, who was probably my foremost mentor. He was already on the county board.
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:27

    There were two out people on the Dain County Board of supervisors. This is in the mid eighties. With the openly gay elected officials in the country. And I got to have two mentors running on my county board. Yeah.
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:40

    I had a lot of support And, you know, answer that question. Do do I have to make a choice between being out or running for office? And it’s like, no. I can do both and I can win. And that was remarkable.
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:54

    My congressman Mark Popean, who is an out gay man in Congress, sort of followed in my footsteps, I guess you could say, we were both on the counting board together, and then I ran for state legislature. He ran for my state assembly seat when I ran for Congress, and then he ran for my congressional seat when I ran for senate. But I mentioned him because he was just reminding me the other day that there were more openly gay people in office in Dain County, Wisconsin in the late eighties than there were in the entire state of California. Wow. And you would think that maybe, you know, a state like California might have more openly gay elected officials.
  • Speaker 4
    0:19:33

    But, yeah, I think we’ve been overtaken by California since then. But Madison, Wisconsin was a pretty special place in terms of being forward thinking in terms of LGBTQ rights and policies, and elected officials.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:47

    I wanna do a parks and recreation style show on the gay, Dain County, board of of nineteen eighty five. Was it nineteen ninety four that you proposed in the state legislature, a gay marriage legalization bill, is that right?
  • Speaker 4
    0:20:02

    It sounds about right. What what I we were working sort of on dual tracks of marriage as well as looking at domestic partnership legislation.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:12

    Did you get some nasty letters back then, I would imagine.
  • Speaker 4
    0:20:16

    Yes, there were some, but it was a really fascinating conversation and you know, certainly in nineteen ninety six when the Hawaii case was decided, it really became something on people’s radar screens. For most people, sadly, it was about introducing legislation to prevent it from happening here. But I was obviously leading an effort to talk about it proactively and saying, look, we need the tools to protect our families. You know, when you think of marriage, so many people think of the Sarah Longwell. But it’s so important to recognize that when you get married, you then have available to you this set of legal tools that allows you to protect your spouse, protect your children.
  • Speaker 4
    0:20:59

    Without those tools, you’re certainly more vulnerable as is your family
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:03

    you know, Tim and I are both in one of these newfangled gay marriages.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:07

    And you’re currently parenting on this podcast right now. So you might get see the real deal here at some point.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:13

    Yeah. Me and Major cat are doing the parenting right now. When I was in my late twenties, I joined the logcap republicans because I wanted to get involved in, you know, marriage quality work and repealing don’t ask don’t tell. And one of the things that happened was it I was, like, the youngest person there was, like, mostly men who were in their sixties and seventies. And one of the things that I don’t think gets talked about enough is, like, our generation, we got to get all of the good stuff from it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:40

    And we also got to be at the tail end of the activist class. Like, we were there. As, like, pushing things over the goal line. But you guys, the generation ahead of us, you guys took all the arrows. Like, by the time we came along, There were love is love t shirts and, you know, like, all of the celebrities were on board.
  • Speaker 3
    0:21:58

    You guys were fighting the fight when it was extremely hard and it was a super uphill battle. And I don’t think that generations get synced enough. For what they did, how much work they put in, and the personal risk that they took. And so I just really appreciate it because we do now get to live that life that you imagined to take care of our families. Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:22:19

    I
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:19

    know. I was gonna say that’s sweet. Sometimes awkward to be like, well, thank you. I am great. But we do appreciate that, and thank you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:25

    I have a less sweet comment. I attacked you, despite all your work as a, you know, somebody that was doing this way before I was comfortable doing it. A tactic is maybe an overstatement, but two years ago or I guess last year when you were doing the respect for Mary Jack. Updating this work that started in the mid nineties that now goes all the way to twenty three where this threat or twenty twenty two where this threat is out there, again, you know, maybe wanting to shore out the possibility of the threat after the Roe v wade decision. I on strategic grounds was like that senator Baldwin is being too nice to these Republicans by letting them off the hook.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:00

    By letting them vote for this after the election and, you know, we should jam it down their throats and I’ve got my the bitterness and I have about my former Republican friends. What I wanted to hear from you is kind of That process, the strategic approach in twenty twenty two did you feel like you had the votes where there are Republicans saying they’d only do it after the election and And, you know, did that ended up being harder easier than you thought? I I just would like your impressions from that
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:24

  • Speaker 4
    0:23:24

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:24

  • Speaker 2
    0:23:24

    kind of debate last year. It was a big bipartisan win on a list of them that that I didn’t get enough credit for.
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:30

    I felt confident that we had the votes, but there are procedure you know, the senate, all the procedure, etcetera. I was told very clearly that we would not have the votes to get onto the bill if we brought it up before the election. So some of the same people who said they would be voting for it said, I will not vote to advance onto the bill for debate. If you have this vote before the election. And like, okay, but when we bring it up after the election, are you a yes on passage?
  • Speaker 4
    0:24:06

    And the, you know, yes. So it’s smoke counting. And the question is, do you wanna be able to say whose side everyone’s on and have the political fodder prior to the election, or do you want the win? And I wanted the win. I can’t tell you how how vehemently I felt about that because I was hearing from folks who weren’t sleeping at night because they were so worried about losing recognition of their marriages and, you know, so hard fought.
  • Speaker 4
    0:24:37

    And so, yeah, I wanted to win. There are times where I would say let’s bring a bill up knowing that it’s going to lose so we can show whose side people are on. Right? But this wasn’t one of them.
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:50

    By the way, what he meant to say in there was he sorry for criticizing you? I may not have gone through.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:54

    What I say? I not say the word sorry?
  • Speaker 3
    0:24:57

    That didn’t quite come through, but I just wanna make sure that
  • Speaker 4
    0:24:59

    I thought it
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:59

    was implied that I was wrong, but okay. Go ahead. Thank you for clarifying.
  • Speaker 3
    0:25:02

    So you must have had faith that they were telling you the truth. Like, that was sort of a leap of faith. Right? And so have you built the kind of relationships with your colleagues in the Senate that you sure that the yeses that they were giving you were real ones and not an attempt to just pull the carpet out from under you when it was after session?
  • Speaker 4
    0:25:20

    So yes, I feel like with some of the the dozen that came with us to pass this bill that I I have now a longer relationship. We’ve worked on all sorts of other legislation together when they give their word they they mean it. I will tell you with regard to this particular vote counting effort, a lot of folks said what they said in the presence of other supporters so that key gang that was working on gathering the votes. And so basically, as we were moving towards a vote on bringing this to the floor before the election, and I was with several of the other organizers on this bill, and my couple of my Republican colleagues said, I’m a yes on the bill, but not if it’s before the election. And so it was witnessed by more than just me.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:10

    Did you slap any of them when they said that or wanna, like, throw a, you know, hit him in the face with a pie?
  • Speaker 4
    0:26:15

    There was no physical violence. Involved.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:19

    But what about in your mind? Did you envision that maybe, the what it would feel like? I’ll only support your marriage after of the election. That’s an intriguing position. We appreciate your support, but it’s a it’s an intriguing position for sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:32

    When Sarah and I were talking about this, You know, we should ask you about being a moderate democrat, and then we were like, well, does she define herself as a moderate? And so I thought that it might just be interesting to hear your view on that. How you kind of define your politics these days is obviously the kind of rug is moved from under us a little bit in certain ways, since you were first in politics, and just kind of wondering how you define where you fit in the political system these days.
  • Speaker 4
    0:26:56

    That’s what you’re saying. So I use the word progressive a lot. But, you know, I don’t know if you can see my back scenery here, but there’s a little bobble head right there. That’s — Yeah. — fighting Bob La Follett.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:08

    He was a senator at the turn of the last century.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:12

    Yep.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:13

    And I’m in his senate seat. He was a Republican. He was elected as a Republican and then founded the progressive movement. These words sort of change in meaning over time, but I am a big fan, if you will, of fighting Bob Lofollet. He was In his time, a feminist, he, you know, stood up against the monopolies of the day, the freight rail systems, and In fact, his first, his maiden speech in the senate, you know, they make a big deal of the maiden speech.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:44

    And I, when I was about to give buying, I researched many of the people who had served Wisconsin before, what did they talk about in their maiden speech? Fighting Pablo Follett, his maiden speech was about regulating the freight rail, and it took place over three days. But when I began buying, I said, I promise you this will not take even an entire day, let alone three continuous days. But anyways, because it means something in Wisconsin, because Wisconsin was sort of the place where Republicans created the progressive movement, there was progressive party I view myself as a progressive. And a lot of that has to do with focus on helping working people get ahead.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:22

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:23

    I know Wisconsin to be in place that doesn’t always elect progressives. And so in my mind and and maybe it’s maybe a moderate temperament because I think sometimes people can sort of read, moderate, and because they have a way of I think you emphasize your bipartisan nature. You could tell me that you seem like somebody that the Republicans would come potentially and seek out to talk to, to figure out how to work together. And and so maybe that’s how I’m thinking of it. But, like, Do you lean into that progressive?
  • Speaker 3
    0:28:50

    Because you’re about to have a race. It’s coming up. And do you walk some of that back as you go into election mode? Or do you sort of trust that people see you for who you are in Wisconsin. They like you.
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:03

    They know you, and they’re gonna go into you because they just feel like they can trust you and like you.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:08

    Gosh. It’s so interesting. So the last time I was on the ballot was in twenty eighteen, the midterms.
  • Speaker 3
    0:29:14

    Good year for you guys.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:15

    Yeah. Two years after President Trump was elected. And I remember, as I was traveling the state, meeting my first Trump Baldwin voters. And, Sarah, I’m getting to an answer to your question. Who are these people, you know, that would vote for Donald Trump and then vote for Tammy Ballvin?
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:33

    And in many cases, it was folks who had not felt really seen and heard, but hardworking folks who felt he saw them and felt I did. But I remember still to this day, this conversation with a guy who I was visiting his workplace. He was a union worker at a foundry. Ciece me and he’s like, why do you keep picking on my guy Trump? I’m like, I was just taking it back.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:58

    Why do you keep picking on Donald Trump? My guy. And I’m like, well, sometimes he deserves it. Maybe there’s a little grin that he made, but not much. And somebody comes up to him afterwards and says, you know, okay, so you’re a big Trump fan and What do you think of Baldwin?
  • Speaker 4
    0:30:13

    And he’s like, oh, she’s got my vote. She supports buy America policies. And I wouldn’t have a job if there weren’t buy America policies. But that was a overlap between Donald Trump and Tammy Baldwin was, you know, both really focused on bi America policies, which in a big manufacturing state, and agriculture state like Wisconsin matters. And so, in my mind, it’s progressive policy, but I would say that was something that people saw it.
  • Speaker 4
    0:30:40

    I’m not saying there’s a huge overlap, probably ten percent, but it matters.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:45

    Know it. It’s crucial. And I’d like to you say that because oftentimes when somebody says the word moderate and you’re talking about who the moderate voter you’re trying to reach out to, the first person it comes to mind in people’s minds eye is like the Bulwark voter. Right? It’s a suburban, you know, kind of maybe socially, cult truly a little bit liberal, you know, but has some fiscal conservative sides around.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:07

    Like that’s the image in your head when you hear the word moderate, a lot of folks. But there may be even fewer of us. It’s similar but like there may be even fewer of us than there are the person you’re talking about. Right? Like the inverse Moderate.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:19

    And I and I think there are certain Democrats that struggle at trying to reach out to the culturally conservative, economically liberal. Moderate. Right? And I think the Democrats have lost a lot of ground with those voters, and they’re very important in your state. And so how do you kind of manage that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:36

    You’re thinking, getting to those folks, but I also gotta do a little better in the Wild counties. You know, I gotta manage both of those types of voter.
  • Speaker 4
    0:31:42

    Yeah. Let me start with another divide that you see in Wisconsin that’s been written a lot about especially post twenty sixteen when Trump did win the state. Is an urban rural divide. And I think we’ve seen our rural counties become redder and redder. But I think It’s one of those situations where showing up matters, seeing people, hearing people, respecting people no matter where they live in the state.
  • Speaker 4
    0:32:10

    We’re a rural state in so many regards, although we have a couple of bigger cities, just a couple. Right? And so I think understanding that is also key, not just understanding the Democrat Republican divide. Now I’m going to the Wild counties, and I’m glad you mentioned the Wild counties. For those folks who are tuned in, those are what we call the three counties that surround Milwaukee County.
  • Speaker 4
    0:32:34

    Washington County Ozaki County, Waukesha county are the Wild counties. And they’re deep red, but they’re becoming more purple, if you will. And we saw that especially in a nonpartisan race we just had for April fourth. These are non part and usually local, but there was one statewide race on the ballot and that was for an impending vacancy on our state Supreme Court. And the candidate who I think would be described as the progressive candidate in the field, Janet Prona say, would one with nearly an eleven point, well, I think over an eleven point margin.
  • Speaker 4
    0:33:10

    And really in the Wild counties, we saw a significant depth of support there for her that we hadn’t seen now granted. She didn’t have a d after her name and her opponent didn’t have an r after or his. But everybody knew this was about rights and freedoms and that since the DOB’s decision when Wisconsin reverted to being controlled by a law that was passed in eighteen forty nine, and I did not misspeak. I met eighteen forty nine our criminal abortion ban, that has had a huge impact in Wisconsin, and people were voting their rights and freedoms. And saying, we want our rights and freedoms back.
  • Speaker 4
    0:33:50

    And they connected the dots that a vote for Janet would be a vote to at least I have a prospect in the court of a fair decision in reviewing that law and several others.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:01

    So I have a question about your colleague Mike Gallagher, or I guess he’s not your colleague. He’s in Congress.
  • Speaker 4
    0:34:07

    Well, and if he represents part of the state that I represent. So, yes, we work together on things.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:12

    So, he’s your colleague. Yep. So Mike Gallagher is like, he’s he’s always been my kind of Republican. I love Lisa Mike Gallagher. And then I’ve been a little frustrated with him of late.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:22

    He was somebody who spoke out really strongly during the attack on the capital, but then didn’t impeach Trump. And I was like, okay. He’s positioning himself he wants to run for senate. He knows he can’t vote to impeach Trump and then run for senate. But he just took a pass on running, which is a trend in the Republican Party of people who are I think pretty electable Republicans at statewide levels.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:45

    And you saw this with Sunuya, you saw this with Larry Hogan, people who just said, I’m not gonna run percent it because he didn’t say why, but I suspect it has something to do with The
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:54

    public in primary.
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:55

    The current problem yeah. The current problem in a republican primary with the republican party. Were you relieved that he wasn’t running? Or were you Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:02

    Found it with us on Mike Gallagher. Because he
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:04

    would have been formidable, or do you think he couldn’t have gotten through a republic? Do some right fund history with me.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:08

    Yeah. Okay. So let me start with the point you were first making is when there are only two statewide races on the ballot, as there are next year in Wisconsin, the presidency and this U. S. Senatecy, I would imagine anybody eyeing getting into Republican primary to run for US Senate is wondering who is going to be the presidential nominee.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:32

    Right? If you’re full manga, that’s gonna be an attractive thing. Right? Oh, I’ll run for US Senate, and I can share the stage with Donald Trump. We’re hosting the Republican National Convention next year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:47

    It’s very clear that there’s a big target on trying to win back Wisconsin for the national Republicans. And so I’ve just got to think anybody who’s thinking about getting into the race is realizing how closely tied their fortunes will be to that Republican nominee for president. But back to Mike Gallagher, he has been somebody who I’ve been able to work with, I think, very constructively on especially issues within his district. He represents a district on Lake Michigan that has a shipyard. He’s on the House Armed Services Committee I’m on the appropriations defense sub committee, so making sure that they keep on building ships for the Navy is been an effort that we’ve paired up on occasionally when necessary.
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:36

    And I would say there’s any number of parochial issues that affect his congressional district and the state that I represent where it’s good to be able to work together.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:45

    What about the China Select committee? What’s your take on that?
  • Speaker 4
    0:36:47

    So, certainly, what a plumb assignment for him, and he’s doing a good job. I’m glad that the house is paying attention to issues. I have been sort of wouldn’t that focus for a long time. When I was in the House of Representatives, I was one of the ones who voted against permanent, normalized trade relations with China, PNT. So I have a long history of doing this, but I’m glad that there’s more focused attention.
  • Speaker 4
    0:37:13

    We got to get it right. I don’t want the tensions to become so high that we’re dangerous, but I do think we have to be eyes wide open with the fact that — Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:22

  • Speaker 4
    0:37:22

    in economic competition, there is not a level playing field. And it, for a state like Wisconsin has meant a lot of job loss because it can either dump product in the US and drive folks out of business or multinational businesses have actually just moved the jobs from from Wisconsin to China. Something that we need to be on top of.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:44

    I gotta ask you about one more issue about coming from the left since we have you. I mean, I think that if you look at Mandela’s loss, I’ve got a lot of explanations for it, you know, maybe resources, and I think there are a lot of, you know, I should go and end up being very close. But one that really stuck out is essentially what happened in Kenosha, you see his numbers that go down, I think that you have in that part of the state, you know, you had what was really wrong, like obviously, the police behavior was wrong, but the rioting and and the treatment of local businesses and stuff was wrong and I think that a lot of Democrats and they progressive activists more than Democrats got a little bit out over their skis on not speaking clearly, you know, about those riots and, you know, wanting to make sure that, okay, even if we have concerns about police brutality, you know, there are certain things that we can’t be doing to our fellow members of our state. I’m just wondering how you see that issue and, you know, whether because, obviously, I think that’s gonna be something they come out with you on just like they did, Mandela.
  • Speaker 4
    0:38:40

    Yeah. So speaking with clarity is very important, and condemning violence, condemning the type of, you know, looting and destruction that took place is important as is, and again, to be really clear on an issue, as is important to talk about the type of instances that we were seeing far too often, whether it was George Floyd or what was unfolding frankly across the country with disturbing frequency, and I think you have to be able to take each separately. Obviously, there’s a right to protest, there’s a right to speak out, does not entail violence and looting and the sort of thing we saw in Kenosha, you know, we’ve seen too much of this as a country.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:27

    Yeah. You
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:27

    know, whether it’s that or or, you know, what we saw on January sixth, There’s no place for things going beyond the articulation of one’s grievances. Let me also just add that I’m I would point to different set of factors in that US senate race. You know, I know there’s a number of folks who were saying this was about the issues. I think given how close that race was, one of the things that happened in the closing weeks was publication of some public polls that were just way off.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:02

    He’s gonna lose by ten.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:03

    And if you have a couple of newspapers saying in Wisconsin is down six or seven points, and you’re deciding where you’re gonna write your last check it gonna be for John Federman? Is it gonna be for Rafael warnock? Is it gonna be for Catherine Cartest Maso? And the newspapers, I think, after the fact, and it’s Sadly after the fact said, yeah, we got it wrong. We published some polls that just were to accurate in the end, and it took a lot of wind out of the sails.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:32

    And so I think that actually played a pretty prominent role, especially given how close it actually was.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:38

    Sarah Longwell Ballin’s gotta do some real centering, and we gotta get to our rapid fire. It’s the fun weekend podcast. So do you have a final question for any other burning things you’ve been wanting to hear before we get to the rapid fire? No.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:49

    I just wanna say that was a plus pundit ring. I learned some things I’ve been
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:52

    You have a career in our business if it goes wrong next November.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:56

    Oh, no. I don’t. I promise you, I don’t.
  • Speaker 3
    0:40:58

    I’m just gonna ask a little question, which is somebody who wanted to run for political office, but actually thought I couldn’t run as an out lesbian Republican. I’m bringing fire by the fact that you, like, went for it at a time where it seemed like maybe it wouldn’t happen for you. So, like, what advice do you give people who wanna get into politics? But you know, aren’t sure if they should do it for one reason or another.
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:21

    Certainly, anything I can say to get rid of those anxieties and in inhibitions. So I got started very early on. It was twenty four when I was sworn into the county board. I just sort of dove in in terms of volunteering on other people’s campaigns and you know, while I had studied government in college and got my degree double double major in mathematics and government. But there’s no substitute for just getting in there.
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:45

    So I was doing doors for other people sort of getting the feel of what it feels like to engage with voters. I was helping a few candidates for local office, organize their campaigns. They were pretty new at it too and sort of and as you know, from my background, I started at super local politics, and not necessarily with the view that someday I was going to be in much higher office, but was encouraged to take that step ladder approach. So, county board, state assembly, to my first constituency on the county board ten thousand people. I represented fifty thousand people when I was in the state assembly.
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:22

    Seven hundred thousand when I was in the House of Representatives. But just dive in and maybe you start by working on other people’s campaigns just to demystify it, to understand how it works, as a woman in politics, I get some of this innately. But a lot of women also doubt their mastery of the issues and will often not dive in because they don’t know everything yet. And it was like, well, I’ll wait until I’ve studied everything that could come before the Dain County Board of supervisors. And sometimes aren’t male counterparts, just, you know, I’ll I’ll wing it.
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:57

    I’ll be fine. So so I and also, as a young woman say, do not to know everything. You have to understand your course set of values, and then just go for it. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:08

    That is great advice. Okay. We’re moving to the rapid fire round. We’re running out of time. Center Baldwin.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:12

    The first one, everyone gets it something you’ve changed your mind on since entering politics.
  • Speaker 4
    0:43:17

    Oh, gosh. There’s so many. There was a local issue I opposed building the Frank Lloyd Wright Design Ron DeSantis Center in Downtown Madison, It was in my district. I actually ran on we can’t have it. It is the most beautiful building in downtown Madison except for the capital.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:35

    Yeah. Sometimes public investment is good. Okay. Obama famously said that you drink a beer with Mitch McConnell if you if you want to buy partisanship so much. So What is a Republican senator that you would most like to drink beers with?
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:46

    I know you’re a beer drinker.
  • Speaker 4
    0:43:48

    I am. You have to support your Wisconsin businesses. Oh, boy. Tom Tillis.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:54

    Everybody picks Tom Tillis. He must be a nice guy. He’s I think Chris Murphy also picked Tom Tillis. Okay.
  • Speaker 4
    0:43:59

    I can pick another one if you don’t want, you know, Dan Sullivan.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:03

    Dan Sullivan. He seems like a guy to drink a beer with. I have some complaints, but we’ll get to that another episode. Okay. It’s gay pride month, your LGBTQ American Mount Rush.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:13

    I need four LGBTQ Americans to put on Mount Rushmore. Ready.
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:17

    Oh my goodness. Okay. Harvey Melk, Alain Noble.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:22

    This is why I do this so I can Google people. Who is the third one?
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:25

    Bardi Frank,
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:27

    I’m already frank.
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:29

    Steve Ron DeSantis Wisconsinite.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:31

    That’s a good pick for a local by I like to say this is no shame on you, this is like the third or fourth person I’ve asked this, someone commented no one has yet said James Baldwin. That is horrible. It’s my fault. Not yours. I didn’t put him on mine either, so I’m kicking Harvey Milk off mine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:46

    He’s he did a great job, but James Ballin’s gotta be on there. Okay. Your most stereotypically lesbian personality trait. Do wear fingerless gloves, like to chop wood.
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:55

    Oh, I like power tools. I
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:57

    do. Power tools. Power tools. Great one. Okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:01

    Final question for if people wanna come to Wisconsin, we hear about Madison. You hear about Lambo Field, What is uptown, restaurant, park, the in Wisconsin people don’t know about that we should come visit?
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:13

    Oh, hike the ice age trail.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:15

    I I don’t even know what that is. That’s a good Google, hiking the ice age trail. That’s also maybe a stereotypically lesbian trait. Okay. Final bonus on route of time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:23

    Who do you wanna run against next year? And why is it sheriff, David Clark?
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:28

    Oh, gosh. Wow. They get to sort that out themselves.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:33

    Thank you so much for the time, senator Baldwin. Is it really great to have you? Do you have other stuff that’s relevant for the Bulwark, wow crowd audience, you know, tell the staff to keep in touch, and I did not get to the fact that you are currently working on a label American bill with JD Vance.
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:49

    Cool online.
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:50

    Cool online.
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:51

    Tri of origin, labeling online.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:53

    This is your bipartisan cred. You’re so bipartisan. You’ll even work with JD Vance. So we appreciate you for doing that and for coming on the show, and we’ll talk to you soon.
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