Alumni fare well in midterm elections

Harvard Law School graduates across the country won political victories as part of the nation’s midterm elections. Rep. Tom Cotton ’02 (R-Ark.) successfully challenged two-term Democratic Senator Mark Pryor in a contentious Senate race, helping the GOP win control of the Senate.

A number of HLS alumni currently serve in the Senate. In this year’s race, incumbents Jack Reed ’82 (D-R.I.), who was first elected to the Senate in 1996, won with 70 percent of the vote, and Mark Warner ’80 (D-Virg.) held on to his Senate seat by a slim lead. Senator Carl Levin ’59 (D-Mich.), who served six terms and was chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, did not run for re-election this year and will retire in January.

At the congressional level, eleven HLS alums currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives won re-election. Joaquin Castro ’00 (D-Tex.) was re-elected for a second term in the 20th District, and Jim Cooper ’80 (D-Tenn.) won his re-election bid for Tennessee’s 5th District, where he has served for six terms. Ron DeSantis ’05 (D-Fla. 6th), Alan Grayson ’83 (D-Fla. 9th) and Joseph Kennedy III ’09 (D-Mass.) all won second terms in Congress. Sander Levin ’57 (D-Mich.), brother of Sen. Carl Levin ’59, will head back to the House for a 17th term. Mike Pompeo ’94 (R-Kan. 4th) took the lead in his race with 60 percent of the votes for a third term. John Sarbanes ’88 (D-Md.) defeated his GOP challenger to secure a fifth term. Adam Schiff ’85 (D-Calif. 28th) was easily re-elected for an eighth term; Terri Sewell ’92 (D-Ala. 7th) was re-elected without unopposition. Brad Sherman ’79 (D-Calif. 30th) will return for a 10th term. And Juan Vargas ’91 (D-Calif. 51st) will also return to the nation’s capital for a second term.

Two HLS alums will leave the House this year. John Barrow ’79 (D-Ga.), who held Georgia’s 12th Congressional District seat since 2004, was unseated by Republican businessman Rick Allen in a closely watched race. Longtime Congressional Rep. Tom Petri ’65 (R-Wisc), who was first elected in 1979 and served 18 terms, did not run for re-election and will retire in January.

In local races elsewhere in the country, two alumni lost gubernatorial races. Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown ’92 (D) fell to Larry Hogan in Maryland and Texas State Senator Wendy Davis ’93 (D) lost to State Attorney General Greg Abbott in Texas.

Harvard Law School student Eric Lesser ’15 won his bid for a seat in the Massachusetts Senate in the 1st Hampden-Hampshire district, leading his Republican and Independent opponents with 50 percent of the vote. The 29-year-old former White House aide will be the youngest member of the Massachusetts Senate.

Jorge Elorza ’03 was elected mayor in Providence, Rhode Island, defeating Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr., who served as mayor of Providence from 1975 to 1984 and again from 1991 to 2002. In October, President Barack Obama ’91, who rarely endorses for local elections, announced his support for Elorza, a former Housing Court judge, in his race against Cianci, a twice-convicted felon.

In San Francisco, two HLS alums, David Chiu ’95 and David Campos ’96 ran a hotly contested race in a bid for city’s 17th Assembly District. The race, dubbed “David v David,” was noteworthy for the candidates’ similarities: both are 44-years-old, liberal Democrats and Harvard-educated attorneys who served on San Francisco Board of Supervisors. By late Tuesday night, an unknown number of absentee and provisional ballots still needed to be counted. Chiu was ahead, 51 to 49 percent with about 2,500 more votes than Campos.