Baldwin Advances Up Democratic Leadership

BY LISA KEEN

The U.S. Senate's only openly LGBT member earned a leadership spot Wednesday, as Senate Democrats re-organize following the Nov. 8 election.

Shortly after his election Wednesday as Senate Democrats' new Minority Leader, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York announced Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin would take over as Secretary of the Senate Democratic Conference (aka Senate Democratic Caucus). The position is charged with keeping minutes of the Caucus meetings and helping organize its meetings. On the Senate organizational chart, it is the fourth ranking position among the Democrats.

Baldwin replaces outgoing Secretary Patty Murray of Washington, who has served in the role for nine years. Murray becomes Assistant Minority Leader, the third-ranking Democrat behind Schumer and Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Schumer replaces outgoing Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who is retiring.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last month that Baldwin was on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's list of potential running mates. The paper said more than three dozen names were on the original list.

Baldwin was elected to the Senate in 2012, after seven terms in the House, representing the Madison, Wisconsin, area. Her election to the House seat was the first time an openly LGBT person had been elected to Congress. Other LGBT members of Congress at that time had come out after being elected and serving several terms.

Baldwin was on a list of 36 names sent from John Podesta to Cheryl Mills on March 12. The email does not identify the names as potential running mates but only "people worth looking at" and "people worth considering." The list included Clinton's tough Democratic challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders, who had just days before won the Michigan primary. At that point, Clinton had secured about half of the delegates she need to win the nomination. There were also some names on the list which suggest seem very unlikely considerations for vice president: openly gay Apple CEO Tim Cook and both Bill and Melinda Gates of Microsoft fame.


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