The Tiger caucus is changing. Democrat Jared Schutz Polis ’96, a five-term U.S. representative from Colorado’s 2nd district, will be leaving Washington, D.C., to become his state’s new governor, and Rep. Leonard Lance *82, an incumbent Republican in New Jersey’s 7th district, lost a tight race to a Democratic challenger. The Nov. 6 midterm elections also saw Republican Sen. Ted Cruz ’92 of Texas win a second term in one of the nation’s most-watched races, headlining his party’s successful bid to retain the Senate majority.
Polis, who will succeed Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, made national headlines as the country’s first openly gay man to be elected governor. His longtime partner, Marlon Reis, and their two children joined him on stage at a victory celebration, according to the Denver Post. “Tonight we reaffirm what an amazing state we live in,” Polis said. “In Colorado, we dare, we dream and we do. Whether it’s embracing big ideas or hiking our amazing mountains, we don’t back down when something is challenging.”
Cruz, who edged Democrat Beto O’Rourke in a race that the Houston Chronicle projected to be the most expensive in U.S. Senate history, called the election “a battle of ideas,” according to The Dallas Morning News, citing jobs and security as issues that he believed propelled his successful campaign.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, six alumni incumbents won re-election, according to projections from the Associated Press: Ken Buck ’81, R-Colo. 4th; Mike Gallagher ’06, R-Wis. 8th; Derek Kilmer ’96, D-Wash. 6th; Raja Krishnamoorthi ’95, D-Ill. 8th; John Sarbanes ’84, D-Md. 3rd; and Terri Sewell ’86, D-Ala. 7th.
Alumni candidates in New Jersey had a more difficult road: Lance, who had served the 7th district since January 2009, lost to Democrat Tom Malinowski in a race that seesawed as the returns were posted, and Republican Bob Hugin ’76, the lone alum U.S. Senate challenger, lost to embattled Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez.
In California, Democrat Jessica Morse *10, a Woodrow Wilson School graduate, was unable to unseat five-term Republican incumbent Rep. Tom McClintock in the state’s 4th district.
In addition to Polis, two other alumni competed in gubernatorial contests: Democrat Mary Throne ’82, who lost her bid for Wyoming’s top job; and independent Greg Orman ’91, who finished third in Kansas’s three-candidate race.
Incumbent Nellie Gorbea ’88, the Democratic secretary of state in Rhode Island, won re-election, while Ken Simpler ’89, the Republican state treasurer in Delaware, was defeated in his bid for a second term. In other statewide races, Sean Shaw ’00, a Democrat, lost a close race for Florida attorney general, and Bob Vance ’82, also a Democrat, fell short in his campaign to be Alabama’s chief justice.