Steven Walters
The State of Politics

Will Mike Gallagher Challenge Baldwin?

U.S. Senator Baldwin seeks reelection in 2024. Republican Rep. Gallagher's star turn in Washington helps build his profile.

By - Mar 13th, 2023 11:08 am
Tammy Baldwin and Mike Gallagher.

Tammy Baldwin and Mike Gallagher.

Two factors – Congressman Mike Gallagher’s background in military intelligence and America’s growing international conflicts with China – have made Gallagher the most important U.S. House member from Wisconsin since Speaker Paul Ryan.

Those developments also put Gallagher, named to head the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party, at the head of the list of Republicans who may challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin next year.

Baldwin is laying the groundwork to seek a third six-year term in 2024. She worked her way up from the Dane County Board of Supervisors to the state Assembly and the U.S. House and, in 2012, to the Senate.

Gallagher, 39, had not held public office before running for the Green Bay-based 8th District seat in 2016. After seven years in the Marines, he worked on Middle East and counterterrorism issues as a Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff member. He has graduate degrees in international relations.

Baldwin, 61, the first openly gay person elected to the Senate, got recent national acclaim when President Joe Biden signed into law her bill requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage and guarantee full benefits “regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.” Baldwin put together the coalition that passed that bill after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling giving states authority to regulate abortion raised questions about whether same-sex marriages could also be in jeopardy.

But recent weeks have seen Gallagher’s star turn in Washington.

In a Feb. 21 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Gallagher said he had just returned from a visit to Taiwan, outlined the mission of the special U.S. House committee he chairs and called China an international “bully.”

“The Taiwanese have thrived and built a democracy in defiance of the dark shadow of Chinese Communist Party aggression,” Gallagher said. “When we think about how to deter the Chinese Communist Party, it’s useful to think about how you deal with a bully—by getting your friends together and standing up”

In a Feb. 23 New York Post article, Gallagher summarized news articles that documented Chinese security officers tracking down, monitoring and threatening Chinese in America who criticize China’s government. “China’s Ministry of State Security, Ministry of Public Security and United Front Work Department are active across our country and indeed the world, along with a dizzying number of other local entities tasked with malign activity,” Gallagher wrote.

And Gallagher’s action on another major domestic issue – the COVID-19 pandemic – was noted by Fox News this month. In a Tweet, Gallagher explained why he introduced a bill requiring the declassification of all relevant intelligence related to the origins of the virus: “It’s time for Congress to act and force the admin to declassify the relevant intelligence surrounding the pandemic.”

America’s growing rivalry with China has unified both Democrats and Republicans in Washington. Gallagher and Baldwin recently called for new controls over the social media giant TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese company, for example.

Baldwin and other senators sponsored a bill that could ban TikTok. Gallagher not only favors a ban, but may call TikTok executives before his committee to discuss “national sovereignty.”

Baldwin stepped up her public relations efforts after the November re-election of conservative Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, with whom she rarely agrees. To raise her public profile, Baldwin’s office issued 24 press releases in February. Releases so far this month have included asking the Department of Agriculture to make sure the “dairy” label remains pure and leading “the Senate Democratic caucus in introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act … to guarantee access to abortion, everywhere across the country and restore the right to comprehensive reproductive health care for millions of Americans.”

On March 3, Baldwin also sponsored “legislation to help stop illegal child labor [and] increase maximum fines for violations and establish new criminal penalties.”

November’s Marquette University (MU) Law School poll found an equal number of respondents – 37% – had favorable and unfavorable opinions of Baldwin, with another 17% saying they didn’t know enough to respond. That was before President Biden signed her marriage-equality bill, however.

Gallagher is most closely following developments between the U.S and China. But he’ll also be watching Baldwin’s numbers in future MU polls.

Steven Walters started covering the Capitol in 1988, Contact him at

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2 thoughts on “The State of Politics: Will Mike Gallagher Challenge Baldwin?”

  1. Mingus says:

    Gallagher is getting a great deal of exposure for his background and heading up the House Committee dealing with China. Speaker McCarthy will let Gallagher conduct the hearings the way he wants to. He is not part of the House Republican conservative freak show and is respected among his colleagues. Senator Baldwin is very popular and would be hard to beat. I would think he would want to stay in the House in a safe seat where he can have a great deal of influence.

  2. blurondo says:

    The phrase, “openly gay person” is a non-essential, knee-jerk creating, insulting inclusion to alleged news pieces. Use of it should be considered harrassment and biased writing on the part of the author.

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