After a tight and vitriolic race, Democrat Tammy Baldwin made history on Tuesday by becoming both the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate in the state of Wisconsin and the first openly gay lawmaker in U.S. Senate.
Though former Gov. Tommy Thompson enjoyed about a 10 percent lead in the early results, Baldwin soared back as more precincts reported their tallies.
Thompson had not been on the ballot since 1998, and Democrats have held the Senate seat in Wisconsin since 1957.
Neither Baldwin nor Thompson made an issue of her sexual orientation during the campaign.
On Tuesday night, political scientist Joe Heim, of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Baldwin ran a stronger race than Thompson by putting more effort into get-out-the-vote drives and interacting with voters.
The campaign was the most expensive ever conducted over a Senate seat in Wisconsin.
Baldwin had been embroiled in battle of words with former Gov. Tommy Thompson, describing one of his political ads that questioned her support for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as "desperate and dishonest" as the campaign neared the end of October.
She returned the attack ad volley, hitting Thompson for a $3 million payment he received after heading a private company that won a government contract to help first responders.
The attack ads in this race were particularly virulent, with Thompson filling the airwaves with a barrage of negative ads of Baldwin shouting, "You're damn right," at a rally earlier in a year.