State Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, completed the Democratic sweep in Wisconsin during Tuesday’s general election by winning the House race for Wisconsin’s Second Congressional District.
Pocan maintained the Democratic control of the Madison seat in Congress, taking former Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin’s place as she gave up the seat after 14 years this spring to run for the U.S. Senate.
Winning the race with a comfortable 67 percent to challenger Chad Lee’s 33 percent, according to The Associated Press, Pocan celebrated his victory with Baldwin, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and hundreds of supporters at Madison’s Monona Terrace Tuesday night.
“This is a tremendous honor and a responsibility that I do not take lightly,” Pocan said in his victory speech. “I know the rich character of this seat. This is the district of Fightin’ Bob La Follette … and this is the seat of Tammy Baldwin. I know this is a seat where we expect our representatives to work hard for progressive values and the middle class and lower income families of Wisconsin. And I will do that.”
Shortly after The Associated Press declared Pocan’s win at approximately 9 p.m., Pocan took center stage in the Monona Terrace Ballroom to thank his constituents and volunteers before introducing his family and kissing his partner, Phil Frank.
Like Baldwin, Pocan is openly gay and has been a gay rights activist in Madison. He also served on the Assembly’s Joint Finance Committee for six years, including a term as co-chair.
Pocan said his primary goal as a House representative is to break the standstill in Congress by ensuring legislation is passed and accomplishments are made.
“At the end of the day we have one job — that’s to actually get something done,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you have to compromise your values, but you do have to find compromise. I have done that in my 14 years in the Legislature, and I will do that in Washington for this district.”
Some conservatives were critical of Pocan’s early acceptance speech, including Republican Party of Dane County Chair Mike Herl and Lee Campaign Manager Stephanie Kundert.
“I think it was early for him,” Kundert said. “Every race is different. I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and typically you wait until later in the night, at least until far more than 30 percent of the votes have been recorded.”
Lee thanked more than 130 Republicans in attendance at the DoubleTree Hotel on West Johnson Street for supporting his second congressional campaign in the past two years. Lee, a 29-year-old vice president of technology start-up company, stressed the need to rectify the future policies of the federal government.
“The fight’s not over,” he said to a standing ovation from the crowd. “We’ve got a lot of things that we still need to work on. We haven’t passed a budget in the past four years, and I made a call onto the next Congress to say we must get back to the principles of our founding fathers, the principles of our Constitution, the principles of living in our living within our leans, because we simply cannot afford more debt and more deficits.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.