Tammy Baldwin
Adam Bettcher/AP

Tammy Baldwin Is Blitzing Wisconsin as Her Reelection Campaign Heats Up

The Democrat is spending her recess in counties that were won by Trump.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, one of the more vulnerable Democratic senators up for reelection this year, is spending her recess hammering in a central argument of her campaign: She can do something other Democrats can’t.

“Tammy’s Dairyland Tour,” a trip traversing nearly 1,400 miles and 19 counties in just five days, is an all-out push to show how Baldwin is at ease in areas where other Democrats may not be — she’s uniquely been able to win over voters who otherwise often vote for Republicans.

The “Dairyland Tour” includes 13 counties that went for former President Donald Trump twice. It also has six counties Trump won in 2016 that Baldwin nabbed two years later when elected to her second Senate term. However, five of those six went for Trump again in 2020, and in 2022, they were won by Sen. Ron Johnson.

Figuring out how to get these voters to swing back again has been key in the Baldwin campaign, and she keeps going back to see them. Last November, in a “One Year to Win Weekend,” Baldwin covered four counties, two of which she returned to this week.

During the tour this week, Baldwin is hosting roundtables on issues like Made in America legislation and farmers’ mental health and suicide prevention.

Baldwin “gets around the district,” said Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democratic ally in the state’s congressional delegation. She’ll be visiting Sauk County in his district, a presidential bellwether. “She talks about issues that are relevant to people, and the election year just happens to be when she’s on the ballot, but it’s all the hard work and the previous five years that pay off for her.”

Wisconsin Republicans in D.C. brush it off.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that the senator travels well in the state, but what voters need to take a look at is her effectiveness in D.C. and what she’s accomplished here,” said Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, whose district she visited on the tour. “I think they’ll find it’s very little in the amount of time she’s been in the U.S. Senate.”

“I’m sure she’s going to be all over the state. I just think she should explain why she votes with President Biden 95% of the time,” Rep. Tom Tiffany said. She spent time in his district this week too.

Baldwin has won by significant margins in her races so far, especially for Wisconsin. She even went from about 5.5 points in 2012 to a startling near-11-point win her second time around.

In her first race in 2012, she shared the ballot with Barack Obama, who won Wisconsin with a margin unseen in the last two presidential cycles. Biden’s polling is in more difficult territory than Obama’s was, and Republicans have made clear they’ll link Biden to Baldwin as much as possible.

“The problems that dairy farmers have right now, in terms of inflation, higher cost of inputs, are directly tied to Joe Biden’s policies that she supported,” Tiffany said.

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Baldwin has done work in policy areas critical for rural communities, including manufacturing (highlighted in her first campaign ad of the season) and getting federal funding for rural broadband and businesses. One of the businesses that received a grant last year is in Marathon, a county Baldwin visited on her tour that falls in Tiffany’s district.

Republican Rep. Derrick Van Orden has worked on a number of bills with Baldwin, including Baldwin’s DAIRY PRIDE Act and efforts to rename a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs medical center. Baldwin has also visited several counties in his ward on the tour.

Despite their legislative efforts together, “I do prefer [if] Senator Baldwin could exercise some more influence over in the Senate,” he said. “She’s been around a lot longer than I have, and if she could really push these bills through and get Chuck Schumer to sign them instead of just looking at them, I’d appreciate that a lot more.”

Nuha Dolby is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.