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Democrat Tammy Baldwin wins US Senate seat in Wis.

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 1:17 am •  Published: November 7, 2012
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Scott Fisler, 48, a car dealership manager from St. Francis, said he voted for Thompson because of the work he did as governor reforming the state's welfare system.

"That kind of forward thinking I hope he can bring back, that we can all pitch in because it's all of us," Fisler said. "We all have to work really hard at this."

Chris Pfeifer, 34, a warehouse clerk from Madison, said he voted for Baldwin because he liked the job she's been doing in Congress.

"I think Tommy had his chance already," Pfeifer said.

After announcing his Senate run, Thompson faced three more conservative challengers during a bruising Republican primary election in August. Thompson said the primary left him broke and exhausted.

Baldwin seized on the opportunity. She and her supporters outspent Thompson 3-to-1 on television advertising in the weeks after the primary, which helped her surge in the polls heading into the November election. Baldwin had run unopposed in the Democratic primary.

During her campaign, Baldwin argued that Thompson was not the same man who Wisconsin voters had repeatedly elected to office since 1966. She stressed how he made millions of dollars in the private sector while working for a high-powered Washington law firm and a variety of health companies since 2005.

Thompson told voters that Baldwin was too extreme for Wisconsin, noting her support for universal health care and a voting record that consistently found her ranked as one of the most liberal members of Congress. He specifically stressed that her position on federal health care reform was even more liberal than Obama's by advocating for more government oversight.

They also sparred over each other's approach toward Medicare. One ad running against Thompson showed him telling a tea party group in June that he supported doing away with Medicare and Medicaid. Thompson said he supported a version of the plan put forward by GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to turn Medicare into a voucher program.

Ads against Baldwin, meanwhile, tried to portray her as an extremist and frequently used footage of her from a recent rally shouting, "You're damn right!"

Much of the campaign had been fought by outside interests pouring millions into a barrage of such television ads, pushing overall spending on the race to make it one of the most expensive in the country this year.