Baumgart was born on December 22, 1938 in Gibson, Wisconsin. He graduated from Sheboygan North High School in Sheboygan, Wisconsin before attending the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Baumgart has served in the United States Army and has been active with the Boy Scouts of America and the Izaak Walton League. He is married and has one daughter from a previous marriage.
Baumgart was elected to the Senate in 1998. Previously, he had been a member of the Assembly from 1990 to 1996. He is a Democrat.
- "Baumgart, James R. 1938". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved 2012-01-06.