Baldwin faces challenge from staunch Trump supporter Vukmir

Published 11-06-2018

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race pits one of the most liberal members of Congress against a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump.

Tuesday's race between Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Republican Leah Vukmir also marked the first time in Wisconsin history that both major party candidates running for Senate were women. With Baldwin leading in fundraising and the polls, Vukmir campaigned as the underdog and urged Republicans who supported Trump to surprise pollsters like they did in 2016.

Baldwin has recent history on her side: In the last three midterm elections, no incumbent Wisconsin senator from the party not in the White House lost a re-election bid.

Should Vukmir score the upset, Wisconsin would be represented by two Republican senators for the first time since Joseph McCarthy and Alexander Wiley were in office together between 1947 and 1957. Wisconsin's other senator, Republican Ron Johnson, isn't up for re-election until 2022.

Baldwin and Vukmir disagree on every major issue, including health care, immigration, taxes, abortion, national security, gun control and criminal justice.

Baldwin, 56, won her first local race at age 24 and was elected to the Senate in 2012, beating former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, in a year when former President Barack Obama was also on the ballot. Baldwin was the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. Her voting record and advocacy for issues such as universal health care coverage has consistently resulted in her being ranked by nonpartisan watchdog groups as one of the most liberal members of Congress.

Vukmir, first elected to the Legislature in 2002, is one of the state Senate's most conservative members. She is a close ally of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, helping to pass a 20-week abortion ban, right-to-work legislation and a law weakening public-sector unions.

Justin Jay, 27, a West Allis resident, said although he voted for some Democrats on the ballot, he chose Vukmir in the Senate race because she shares his stance on abortion and gun rights.

While Baldwin campaigned with former President Barack Obama and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders , Vukmir rallied with Trump and forcefully supported his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh. Baldwin voted against his confirmation.

Stephenie Hamen, a 42-year-old artist from Sun Prairie, said she voted for Baldwin, in part as a vote for women's rights and a vote against Trump.

"I don't know if it was to vent (against the president)," she said. "It's a way to stand up for women as Americans and be heard. It's a scary time

Vukmir, first elected to the Legislature in 2002, is one of the state Senate's most conservative members. She is a close ally of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, helping to pass a 20-week abortion ban, right-to-work legislation and a law weakening public-sector unions.

Justin Jay, 27, a West Allis resident, said although he voted for some Democrats on the ballot, he chose Vukmir in the Senate race because she shares his stance on abortion and gun rights.

While Baldwin campaigned with former President Barack Obama and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders , Vukmir rallied with Trump and forcefully supported his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh. Baldwin voted against his confirmation.

Stephenie Hamen, a 42-year-old artist from Sun Prairie, said she voted for Baldwin, in part as a vote for women's rights and a vote against Trump.

"I don't know if it was to vent (against the president)," she said. "It's a way to stand up for women as Americans and be heard. It's a scary time to be a woman in America. No matter what (Trump) says about being a white man in America, it's scarier for women and minorities. If the Republicans stay in power, we're writing a check for that party to do whatever they want. If we continue down that path we have no idea what's coming next."

Baldwin supports Sanders' "Medicare for All" bill and ran as a defender of the Affordable Care Act. Baldwin cast Vukmir as the potential deciding vote to repeal the law and its guarantees of insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.

Vukmir, a nurse who got into politics in the 1990s after being a local education activist, says she would replace the pre-existing coverage guarantee with a state law that creates high risk insurance pools.

Vukmir, 60, focused on an opioid over-prescription crisis at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center, saying Baldwin failed to adequately respond. But family members of a veteran who died there have come out in support of Baldwin and appeared in television ads for her.

Baldwin said Vukmir was siding with insurance companies over people, c

While Baldwin campaigned with former President Barack Obama and independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders , Vukmir rallied with Trump and forcefully supported his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh. Baldwin voted against his confirmation.

Stephenie Hamen, a 42-year-old artist from Sun Prairie, said she voted for Baldwin, in part as a vote for women's rights and a vote against Trump.

"I don't know if it was to vent (against the president)," she said. "It's a way to stand up for women as Americans and be heard. It's a scary time to be a woman in America. No matter what (Trump) says about being a white man in America, it's scarier for women and minorities. If the Republicans stay in power, we're writing a check for that party to do whatever they want. If we continue down that path we have no idea what's coming next."

Baldwin supports Sanders' "Medicare for All" bill and ran as a defender of the Affordable Care Act. Baldwin cast Vukmir as the potential deciding vote to repeal the law and its guarantees of insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.

Vukmir, a nurse who got into politics in the 1990s after being a local education activist, says she would replace the pre-existing coverage guarantee with a state law that creates high risk insurance pools.

Vukmir, 60, focused on an opioid over-prescription crisis at the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center, saying Baldwin failed to adequately respond. But family members of a veteran who died there have come out in support of Baldwin and appeared in television ads for her.

Baldwin said Vukmir was siding with insurance companies over people, citing her votes in the Legislature against bills that would expand coverage for hearing aids and cochlear implants, mental health care and substance abuse treatments, and access to oral chemotherapy. Vukmir said her positions were misrepresented and that she was looking out for consumers' interests.

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For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

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