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7 alumni win bids for Congressional seats

Seven Princeton alumni won bids, for Congressional seats in Tuesday’s midterm elections of at least 11 who were up for election, as of midnight Wednesday.

The winners include Rep. John Sarbanes ’84 of Maryland’s third district, Rep. Terri Sewell ’86 of Alabama’s seventh district, Rep. Leonard Lance GS ’82 of New Jersey’s seventh district, Rep. Derek Kilmer ’96 of Washington’s sixth district, Ken Buck '81 of Colorado's fourth district, and Senator Jeffrey Merkley GS ’82 of Oregon, andRep. Jared Polis ’96 of Colorado’s second district.


Sarbanes, Sewell, Merkley, Kilmer and Polis ran as Democratic candidates, while Lance and Buck ran as Republicans.

Of the seven recently elected alumni, all have previously served in Congress with the exception of Buck.

However, the candidates who recently were re-elected to another term have differing levels of experience.

For Sarbanes, this election marks the beginning of his fifth term in Congress, for Sewell her third term and for Lance, Polis, Kilmer and Merkley their second terms.

Three alumni also lost bids for Congress in the midterms, including Rep. Nan Hayworth ’81 of New York’s 19th district, Paul Clements GS ’96 of Michigan’s sixth district, and Greg Orman ’91 for Kansas’ Senate seat.

Of the three who did not secure seats in Congress, only Hayworth had previously served as a representative on the federal level.


Though the alumni represent a diverse set of states and personal backgrounds, jobs and the economy, healthcare and affordable college education were popular points in their campaign platforms.

Their intended approaches to solve these issues in Congress according to their campaigns, however, differ.

For example, Sarbanes and Sewell stated on their campaign websites that they support the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, to provide their constituents with affordable healthcare coverage.

On the other hand, Lance openly supports the repeal of Obamcare; Kilmer and Merkley also mentioned supporting affordable healthcare for their constituents in their campaign platforms but were less explicit in their support or intent to repeal Obamacare.

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Nearly all the representatives support providing quality, affordable education for college-age students. Another issue that was popular in the alumni’s campaigns was addressing the debt burden, with candidates from both parties advocating better allocation of government spending.

The victorious candidates also all either studied in the Wilson School or majored in politics during their time at the University.

In phone interviews with The Daily Princetonian prior to election day, several candidates mentioned students should recognize the influence they can have on issues that are important to them by voting.

“They need to connect the dots between issues they care about and the political arena influencing that area. They have an opportunity, and an obligation, to think to the next level,” said Sarbanes of the responsibility University students bear in voting.

Several also noted that their Princeton experience was influential, inspiring or further developing a desire to serve in government, and that the University has a culture of service.

“A lot of people self-select to Princeton because they want to go to a university that has an ethic that is focused on service … but Princeton is unique in the degree to which it teaches students to positively impact our community, our country and our world,” said Kilmer regarding his opinion of how the University instills a culture of service in its students.