Tammy Baldwin is elected the first openly gay senator

Wisconsin Democrat Rep. Tammy Baldwin has been named the projected winner in her race against Republican Tommy Thompson. Baldwin's victory makes her the first openly gay candidate elected to the U.S. Senate.

"Tammy Baldwin's victory showed what a majority of Americans already know: that candidates should be judged on their qualifications for the job and not their sexual orientation," said Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

In a recent interview with the Guardian, Baldwin said, "If you are not in the room, the conversation is about you. If you are in the room, the conversation is with you."

She continued, "We never had an openly LGBT member of the U.S. Senate, and even though there are strong pro-equality allies who serve there, it has always been a conversation about a group of people. So this changes everything."

Though the tallies are still being calculated, several news outlets, including the Associated Press, Reuters and Fox News, have called the race for Baldwin. It was the most expensive U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin history, with both campaigns spending an estimated $65 million, according to Reuters.

Even as some news outlets calling the race for Baldwin, the candidate took to her Twitter account and encouraged voters to stay in line at their polling stations.

And despite Baldwin's historic win, her sexuality was not a leading issue in the race, according to the Washington Post and Slate.

"I take that as a good sign," voter Kelly Webber told the Post. "Maybe we're just moving past all that."

Still, it's worth noting that her election appears to be a historic change in the Badger State. As recently as 2006, all but one Wisconsin county voted in favor of a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage.

The "Tammy and Tommy" race, as it was referred to locally, remained close throughout, but a final poll heading into Election Day showed Baldwin with a slight edge.

"Tonight Tammy shattered a glass ceiling that has existed for more than two centuries, and we could not be more thrilled," said Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe.

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