Although the typical Yalie is not old enough to make a bid for Congress even after Commencement, former professional hockey star and Stanley Cup winner Mike Richter ’08 could be poised to join the Eli contingent on Capitol Hill next year.
Richter is a 40-year-old Ethics, Politics and Economics major who was admitted to Yale through the Eli Whitney special students program. A Democrat, he is considering a run against Chris Shays, a Republican who represents Fairfield County, the state’s Fourth Congressional District.
Richter has not made a final decision on whether or not to run, and said he will announce his intentions in two weeks.
“I really am in the preliminary stages of any political involvement,” Richter said in an e-mail, declining to comment further.
The would-be statesman has a decorated athletic background. As goalie for the New York Rangers, Richter helped his team win the Stanley Cup in 1994. He also has a silver medal from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, when he tended goal for the United States Olympic men’s hockey team.
Richter volunteered to help coach the Yale men’s hockey team when he enrolled at Yale, working primarily with the goalies. His affability, intelligence and popularity in southern Connecticut could be helpful in a potential congressional bid, goalie Alec Richards ’09 said.
“I know he’s a very smart guy, and he really cares and is adamant about a lot of things,” Richards said. “You can really see his skills with communication come out when he’s out there with us.”
Though Richter is not currently a resident of the district in which he would run — he lives in Guilford, Conn. — state law allows for a resident to run in any of Connecticut’s districts. The Fourth District, which extends from Greenwich to Bridgeport, includes slightly more registered Democrats than registered Republicans.
Shays is currently the only Republican member of Congress from Connecticut and has served in the House of Representatives since 1992. Peter Prosol ’08, a Connecticut resident and Republican supporter, said that while he hopes Shays would be able to defeat Richter in 2008, the increasingly liberal bent of state politics could make it difficult.
“It seems that the state is becoming more liberal, and that is not good for Chris Shays,” Prosol said.
Richter would be both very electable and a good congressman while in office, said men’s hockey team captain Matt Cohen ’07.
“He would do a great job,” Cohen said. “He’s very studious — he takes care of business.”
Head coach Keith Allain, who has known Richter since Richter was 16, said he is surprised Richter would consider running for political office.
“He’s smart, he’s caring, and he wants to be involved,” Allain said. “He would be fantastic in whatever he wanted to do.”
Richter interned last year for a Democratic congressman from New York and has criticized comments President George W. Bush ’68 made in the aftermath of Sept. 11, according to the Associated Press.
Richter, who is married and has three children, enrolled at Yale in 2004.