Wisconsin was one of many battleground states that ultimately sent its electoral votes to President Barack Obama last night. And Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin helped Democrats maintain their edge in the U-S Senate, in the process becoming Wisconsin's first woman Senator and the first openly gay Senator in U-S history.
All year long Tammy Baldwin ran a steady, disciplined campaign, rarely veering from her message. That continued last night right on up through her victory speech.
"I am honored and humbled and grateful," she said. "And I'm ready to get to work. Ready to stand with President Barack Obama. And ready to fight for Wisconsin's middle class."
But this wasn't just any victory for Democrats or for Baldwin.
"I am well aware that I will have the honor to be Wisconsin's first woman U-S Senator," she said. " And I am well aware that I will be the first openly gay member of hte U-S Senate. But I didn't run to make history. I ran to make a difference."
To win this landmark race Baldwin had to beat former Tommy Thompson, one of the most successful politicians in Wisconsin history. She did it in comfortable fashion, besting him by roughly four-percentage points. Baldwin paid tribute to the former four-term Governor after handing him his first ever statewide loss.
"Tommy and I didn't always agree," she said. " In fact, in this campaign we didn't agree on much. But there can be no doubt that he shares my love and all of our love for Wisconsin."
Baldwin, like President Obama, won counties scattered throughout the state, with solid margins in places like Eau Claire, LaCrosse, Racine and Kenosha Counties. Those are counties Democrats have historically counted on that had eluded them the past couple years.
Thompson last night sounded genuinely surprised as he spoke to reporters about why he lost.
"I gave it my all. I mean I don't think anybody worked as hard as I did," he said. "Over the weekend, I put in 1200 miles in a bus with my family. Yesterday flew all over the state with Scott Walker. I thought sure we were going to win and I really thought we were going to win easily. I had no doubts in my mind when I woke up this morning that we were going to win the election."
GOP regains State Senate majority
It wasn't all bad news for Wisconsin Republicans last night. In the state legislature, Republicans held onto a big majority in the State Assembly. They also flipped the State Senate from a 17-to-16 Democratic majority to a likely 18-to-15 Republican edge. Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he was relieved.
"That compared to the gridlock that we could have been facing, I'm very relieved that we were able to capture the majority this evening."
All of Wisconsin's incumbent Congressmen won their seats. Democrat Mark Pocan won the only open Congressional seat--the one being vacated by Baldwin.
For all the talk of how Wisconsin could go either way in this election, some voters at the Town of Middleton polling place southwest of Madison seemed to have a pretty good idea of how things would turn out. Republican Rhonda Gamble said she was voting for Romney and Thompson out of principle.
"I feel it's my responsibility," she said. "But I honestly think that it's not going to make that much a difference as far as the outcome is. Probably unfortunately."
Democratic voter Kay Demartino had the same hunch and said she was excited to cast her ballot, especially for Tammy Baldwin.
"It shows how great this state is," she said. "We can have, you know, McCarthy. And we can have Tammy Baldwin. That's awesome."
Last night's election also marked another milestone. After two long years of election after election in Wisconsin, voters can finally take a break, at least for a few months.