Thompson aide’s attack on Baldwin over sexual orientation draws harsh criticism
Post by Emily Mills on 9/10/2012 4:08pm
The race for Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seat being vacated by longtime incumbent Herb Kohl is quickly growing heated, with a controversial early salvo being fired by an aide to former Gov. Tommy Thompson, now the official Republican nominee in the contest.
Thompson advisor Brian Nemoir sent a tweet Saturday with a link to a video of Baldwin dancing at a gay pride event in Madison and the comment, “Clearly, there’s no one better positioned to talk ‘heartland values’ than Tammy.”
Nemoir has since protected his Twitter account from public view, though he has admitted to sending the message. Neither Thompson’s nor Baldwin’s campaigns have responded to the incident.
Former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, however, issued a statement via his Facebook page later that day, saying, “In Wisconsin, we reject divisive personal attacks. It's time for Tommy Thompson to both take responsibility for the harmful divisiveness of his campaign and to squarely reject it.”
The video of Baldwin dates to a Wisconsin Capitol Pride rally from 2010 when the congresswoman appeared onstage with the disco cover band VO5 and Madison-based artist Angela Richardson, who was dressed as Wonder Woman.
Baldwin is openly gay and has been since first winning election to the U.S. Congress representing Wisconsin’s Second District in 1999. If elected in November Baldwin would become the first openly LGBT member of the U.S. Senate.
The Capital Times editorial board quickly issued its own criticism of Nemoir’s tweet and called on the Thompson campaign to apologize: “It also owes Wisconsin’s lesbian and gay community — a community that includes Republicans associated with the Log Cabin Republican clubs — a commitment to try not to exploit stereotypes and bigotries.”
Thompson has come under fire before for his stance on LGBT rights, including when he stated during his 2008 presidential bid that he believed employers should be allowed to fire workers for being gay, though he attempted to recant the next day, claiming that he thought “there should be no discrimination in the workplace.”
In August Thompson reasserted his support for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), telling a TV interviewer, “I believe very strongly in the Defense of the Marriage Act [sic], that marriage is between one man and one woman. I support that. That’s the federal law.”
Upon winning election as governor of Wisconsin in 1986 Thompson also followed through on a campaign pledge to eliminate the former governor’s Council on Lesbian and Gay Issues.
Nemoir has tried to distance his actions from the campaign, saying they were his responsibility alone.
Baldwin entered the larger political fray more directly on Monday when her campaign released an ad attacking Thompson’s work as a lobbyist in Washington DC, as well as his time serving as Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Bush Administration.
According to the Baldwin campaign, the two candidates are set to debate three times prior to the November 6 election: Sept. 28, Oct. 18 and Oct. 26.
According to the AP: “Baldwin says the first debate on Sept. 28 is sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation and will be in Milwaukee.
“The second debate in Wausau on Oct. 18 will be sponsored by Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and TMJ4.
“The third and final debate will be Oct. 26 hosted by Mike Gousha from WISN-TV in partnership with the Marquette University Law School and the WISN network of affiliates.”
Emily Mills is Editor-At-Large for Dane101, as well as Editor of Our Lives Magazine. She is also a freelance writer, photographer, actor, and musician (drummer and singer in local band Little Red Wolf). Originally from several states up and down the Midwest Emily has called Madison home since 2000. Contact her at