Midterm Elections See Major Influx of Scientists to Office

Nov 16, 2018

The most recent midterm congressional elections saw the appointment of more candidates with science backgrounds than ever before. At the federal level, there were more than two dozen candidates with science backgrounds who ran for office. Of those, at least seven won their bid for a seat in the House of Representatives.

The incoming freshman congressional class sees a range of scientific disciplines represented. In Pennsylvania, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6) has a degree in industrial engineering and will represent areas north and west of Philadelphia. In Chicago, newly-elected Rep. Sean Casten has a strong background in biochemistry. In South Carolina, ocean engineer Joe Cunningham took a strong stance against offshore drilling and was victorious. In Virginia, nuclear engineer Elaine Luria, defeated the Republican incumbent, Scott Taylor.

There were also several incumbent scientists that won their midterm race. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL) head of the House R&D caucus was among the victors on election night. Rep. Foster is a former high-energy physicist with a PhD. Rep Jerry McNerney (D-CA) has a PhD in mathematics and also a professional background as an engineer.

At the gubernatorial level, many of the successful candidates had clean energy as a key component of their campaign. Both governor-elects Tim Walz (D-MN) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) promised to transition their states’ energy power to be sourced 50% from renewable energy sources within the next 12 years. In California, governor-elect Gavin Newsom (D-CA) praised predecessor Gov. Jerry Brown for his steadfast commitment to clean energy. Earlier this year Capitol Update reported that Gov. Brown signed a law promising California would be carbon-free by 2045. Governor-elects from six other states-- Jared Polis (D-CO), J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), Janet Mills (D-ME), Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), Kate Brown (D-OR), and Tony Evers (D-WI)—all promised to transition their states to 100 percent clean energy over the next thirty years.