August 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Gay GOP group endorses Baldwin’s opponent in Senate race

A nationally focused gay conservative gay group has endorsed the Republican candidate running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin who’s facing an out Democrat seeking to become the country’s first openly gay U.S. senator.

On Wednesday, the gay conservative group GOProud announced its board of directors voted to back former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson in his bid for a U.S. Senate seat. He’s running in the general election against lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin.

Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of GOProud, called Thompson a “common-sense conservative” who’ll focus on creating jobs in Wisconsin and expanding the economy for the entire state.

In the news statement issued by organization, Thompson is quoted as thanking the group, saying “I appreciate the support of GOProud and look forward to the growing coalition of broad support joining me on the pathway to victory in November.”

The GOP candidate could be seen as a moderate on LGBT issues because he opposes a Federal Marriage Amendment and said he’s a long-time supporter of Wisconsin’s non-discrimination law — the first one passed in the country. But Thompson also said he believes marriage should be one man, one woman and he supports the Defense of Marriage Act.

But in comparison, Baldwin as U.S. House member not only supported, but has taken the lead on pro-LGBT legislation and helped guide it through Congress. Baldwin voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006. In later years, she voted for hate crimes protections legislation, a sexual orientation-only version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.

The endorsement from GOProud is unlikely to have a significant impact on the race in Wisconsin, but polls shows Baldwin may have her work cut out for her. One poll published Wednesday by Marquette University found Thompson leading Baldwin 50-41.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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