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Fifteen Princeton faculty, including president emerita Shirley Tilghman, have endorsed Congressman Rush Holt, Jr. as the Democratic candidate for the vacant U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey.

The seat, left vacant by Frank Lautenberg's sudden death in June, will be filled in a special election held onOct. 16. Holt is running against three other Democrats in the primary scheduled forAug. 13.

The list of Princeton faculty members endorsing Holt is filled with scientists:molecular biology professor and director of the Lewis-Sigler Institute David Botstein,professor emerita of ecology and evolutionary biology Jeanne Altmann,molecular biology department chair Bonnie Bassler, physics professor Curtis Callan GS '64,mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Emily Carter,physics professor emeritus Freeman Dyson,mathematics professor David Gabai GS '80,professor of geosciences and international affairs Michael Oppenheimer,astrophysics professor emeritus Jeremiah Ostriker,physics department chair Lyman Page,mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Clarence Rowleyandmolecular biology professor Eric Wieschaus.

The other faculty members endorsing Holt are social scientists with extensive experience in the natural sciences. They arepsychology professor emerita Anne Treisman,Wilson School professor emeritus Frank von HippelandWilson School professor Robert Keohane.Edward Witten GS '76, a visiting lecturer in physics and professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, has also endorsed Holt.

Holt is running against Newark Mayor Cory Booker, State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Congressman Frank Pallone for the Democratic slot. On the Republican side, the two candidates are Alieta Eck and former Bogota, N.J. Mayor Steve Lonegan.

Holt hasrepresented New Jersey in the House of Representatives for the past 14 yearsandserved as the assistant director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory from 1989 to 1998. The endorsements came through an open letter to the public released on July 23. The letter was signed by a total of 65 scientists, including seven Nobel laureates and the former Secretary of Energy.

“Rush became a rare and outspoken voice for evidence-based thinking in the U.S. Congress,”the letter said. “Never before in our history have we needed more and had less scientific expertise in the United States Congress.”

Holt has previously received support from the University. In 2010, the University donated $56,000 to his Congressional campaign,according to records kept by the OpenSecrets Center for Responsive Politics. And while faculty members have not made public endorsements for other candidates, Booker has had a close public relationship with former African American Studies professor Cornel West. West endorsed Booker and appeared in the documentary "Street Fight" about Booker's 2002 run for mayor of Newark. He also helpedcampaign for Booker's mayoral campaign in 2009andcollaborated with him on a single.

According tofundraising reports published by OpenSecrets.organd updatedMonday, Booker has raised $8.6 million. Holt has raised $1.4 million, Pallone nearly $3.7 million and Oliver $11,689. Lonegan has raised $323,000 and Eck $47,000.

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