Going in to Tuesday’s midterm elections, Yale graduates across the country are gearing up for several contested races for U.S. Congress.
Several Yale graduates are incumbent senators and representatives looking to retain their seats this November, with new faces entering the political stage as well. While several seats are predicted to be noncompetitive, Yale graduates will be instrumental in the fight between parties to gain control of the House and the Senate.
“For Democrats to regain control of Congress, they need extremely high turnout to counter Trump’s race-baiting caravan rhetoric,” said Armin Thomas ’21, who co-hosts the podcast, The Patriot Report. “They will have to hope that red state moderates and independents will trust them enough to cross over. Many Yale alumni will forge the path back to the majority.”
Yalies in the senate up for reelection include Senator Amy Klobuchar ’82, D-Minn., Sen. Sherrod Brown ’74, D-Ohio, Sen. Bill Nelson ’65, D-Fla., and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse ’78, D-R.I. Those from the House of Representatives include John Yarmuth ’69, D-Ky., David Price DIV ’64, D-N.C., Sheila Jackson Lee ’72, D-Texas, and Tom Cole GRD ’74, R-Okla. Katie Porter ’96 has also entered the political stage in California’s 45th District, challenging incumbent Mimi Walters.
Porter, an attorney and law professor at the University of California at Irvine, is in a close race with Walters to turn Orange County blue. The district voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, the first time they had voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. She is hoping to attract voters who are frustrated with Walters’s support of Trump.
In the midst of a heated race for governor in Florida, moderate Democrat Nelson is seeking reelection. He is in a tight race against Rick Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate after reaching his term limit as governor this year. Nelson, who has held office since 2001, is the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee and was the second sitting member of Congress to travel to space when he went on the space shuttle Columbia in 1986. He has been campaigning alongside Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in the hopes of gaining progressive support and keeping his seat. A poll released Saturday by St. Pete polls puts Scott one point ahead.
Yale students from Florida are also paying close attention to these close races in their home state.
“Overall I wouldn’t say anyone is excited about Nelson,” said Tomas Carrillo ’21. “He went to space, which is pretty cool, and he likes to talk about protecting Florida’s wildlife, which lots of Democratic voters like.”
Carrillo added that Nelson is a more moderate Democrat and that many Floridians are voting for him because of frustration with Scott.
Jaeger Johnson ’21 said that he will vote for Scott over Nelson because of his own frustrations with Nelson’s performance.
“I do not like Bill Nelson because he hasn’t done anything recently for Florida,” he told the News. “He only cares about Florida’s problems when elections come up, especially midterm elections.”
Although many candidates are fighting in a close race, Klobuchar is expected to win in a landslide in the Minnesota Senate race. Once a member of the Yale Feminist Caucus, she first assumed office in 2007 and has maintained a high level of support in her state. She is known for her bipartisanship across the Senate.
However, some have also been critical of Klobuchar for her lack of a strong stance on divisive issues.
“She is very personable and has gone to great lengths to demonstrate her care for all Minnesotans, but I think that in her attempt to keep everyone happy, she’s shied away from dealing with divisive issues,” said Seyade Tadele ’21, a Minnesota native. “While her strategy of working on smaller deals that almost everyone supports is very practical and clearly working for her, always playing it safe won’t solve the large issues we’re facing.”
Klobuchar’s fellow Democrat, Sherrod Brown, is also expected to win reelection despite a heavily contested race for governor in Ohio.
Ohio native Zach Stanik ’21 said he has been paying less attention to the Senate race and has few strong opinions about Brown. He added that Brown has not been very “outspoken on issues,” despite voting consistently with Democrats.
A lesser-known addition to the midterms in the U.S. House is Anthony Pappas GRD ’71, who is challenging Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to represent parts of the Bronx and Queens. Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated longtime incumbent Joe Crowley in one of the most striking primary upsets, is expected to win by large margins on Tuesday.
Carolyn Sacco | firstname.lastname@example.org .