Cornell alumni fared well on election night, with all eight Cornellians running for Congressional seats winning or leading their elections as of 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.
In a tight race, Rep. Mark Kirk ’81 (R-IL) won the Illinois Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama. He defeated Alexi Giannoulias by about 2.2 percentage points after what became a particularly negative campaign. Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), the incumbent who was appointed to the seat after Obama became President, chose not to run in the election.
Kirk was dogged by revelations that he had made several false statements throughout his career. He claimed falsely that he won the Navy’s “intelligence officer of the year,” he served in the Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and he came under enemy fire while flying over Iraq and Kosovo. He also incorrectly said that he was a “teacher” at an Ithaca nursery school while studying at Cornell. In fact, Kirk worked part-time at the school as part of a work-study program, according to people who worked at the school at the time.
According to the Associated Press, “The defeat [of Giannoulias] is an embarrasing personal rebuke for Obama on a night of Democratic defeats around the nation.”
Rep. Rob Andrews J.D. ’82 (D-N.J.) won his 12th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He defeated his opponent, Dale Glading, for a second election in a row. Andrews won New Jersey’s 1st District with 62.6 percent of the vote.
In the 2008 election, Andrews received more votes than any Congressman from New Jersey in history — a total of 206,453, according to his House website — breaking his own record. In his win on Tuesday night, he received slightly more than 100,000 votes.
Andrews was so sure of his chances of reelection that his campaign did not even have a website. Before the election, The New York Times said he had a 100 percent chance of reelection, and a Zogby Poll conducted between Oct. 18 and 22 said Andrews led by 41 points.
Republican Chris Gibson Ph.D. ’98 defeated Rep. Scott Murphy (D-N.Y.) in New York’s 20th Congressional District, which includes Albany suburbs and parts of the Hudson Valley. Murphy won the seat in a special election in 2009 after the district’s former representative, Kirsten Gillibrand, was appointed to the Senate.
Gibson, a retired Army colonel, won with about 55.4 percent of the vote. Murphy had been praised by former President Bill Clinton, who stumped for the representative on Monday.
Hansen Clarke ’84, a Democrat, defeated John Hauler with almost 77 percent of the vote, securing the seat for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Clarke’s victory had appeared likely in the heavily Democratic district, with The New York Times giving Clarke a 100 percent chance of winning.
Clarke reached Tuesday’s general election after defeating seven-term incumbent Carolyn Kilpatrick in the Democratic primary.
Bob Filner ’63 (D-Calif.) won his tenth term in California’s 51st Congressional District. Filner had secured 59.3 percent of the vote to his opponent’s 40.7 percent as of early Wednesday morning. The New York Times classified his district as “solid Democratic.”
Filner has two Cornell degrees. He graduated with a major in chemistry and then, in 1969, a Ph.D. in history of science. While at Cornell, he wrote for The Sun.
At press time, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords M.A. ’96 (D-Ariz.) was leading her Republican challenger, Jesse Kelly, with 48.6 percent to Kelly’s 47.5 percent of the vote. 85 percent of precincts were reporting their results. Giffords was trying to win her second reelection race in Arizona’s 8th District.
Giffords often mentioned her alma mater during the campaign. “She refers to [her time at Cornell] quite a bit in her public remarks and my sense is that it left quite an impression on her,” C.J. Karamargin, Gifford’s communications director, told The Sun.
The New York Times gave Giffords a 57 percent chance of winning the election.
Rep. Kurt Schrader ’73 (D-Ore.) also won his reelection race. Schrader received 51.5 percent of the vote while his Republican opponent, Scott Bruun, secured 45.9 percent with 92 percent of precincts reporting.
Polls conducted in October offered contradictory predictions of the election’s results, with one by the Oregonian and Elway Research putting Schrader ahead by 12 points and another, by SurveyUSA from Oct. 17 to 19, claiming Bruun led by 10 points.
Nan Hayworth M.D. '85 defeated Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), who had been seeking his third term as the representative for New York's 19th Congressional District. Hayworth received about 53 percent of the vote.
A retired opthamologist, Hayworth said she wants to "depower" the recent health care overhaul passed by Congress, according to Yahoo! News. During the campaign, Hayworth received support from Tea Party organizations.
Correction: An earlier version of this article left out Nan Hayworth M.D. '85 and incorrectly stated that seven Cornell alumni were running for Congressional seats. Hayworth won her election and brought the total number of Cornellians who won Congressional office to eight. The Sun regrets this error.