November 8, 2018

Scientists Go to Congress

Posted by Laura Lyon

This year, a record number of STEM professionals ran for Congress. 314 Action, a nonprofit political action committee, endorsed 13 first-time STEM candidates. Here are the 8 candidates that won:


Jacky Rosen – Nevada Senate

Jacky Rosen. Photo credit: John Locher / AP

Nevada’s Democratic Senator-elect Jacky Rosen is no stranger to Capital Hill. She is currently the Representative for Nevada’s 3rd district and sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Rosen has a background in computer programming and software development, previously working for major companies in Nevada. Her race was rated as a toss-up, but she ultimately pulled through beating incumbent GOP Senator Dean Heller by 5 points.


Sean Casten – Illinois’ 6th District

Sean Casten. Photo credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo / Chicago Tribune

Democrat Sean Casten defeated Republican incumbent Peter Roskam in Illinois 52.8% to 47.2%.
Casten has an undergraduate degree in molecular biology and biochemistry and masters’ degrees in engineering management and biochemical engineering. In 2007, Casten co-founded Recycled Energy Development LLC which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the recovery of wasted energy.


Joe Cunningham South Carolina’s 1st District

Joe Cunningham. Photo credit: Mic Smith / AP Photo

Democrat Joe Cunningham beat the odds and defeated GOP opponent Katie Arrington by 1.5 points in this red district. Cunningham has a bachelor’s in ocean engineering and worked for a coastline development firm after college. After a career in engineering, he went on to law school. As a House candidate Cunningham has made addressing climate change one of his top priorities.


Chrissy Houlahan Pennsylvania’s 6th District

Chrissy Houlahan. Photo credit: Bradley Bower

Democrat Chrissy Houlahan flipped Rep. Ryan Costello’s open seat defeating Republican Greg McCauley by almost 18 points. Houlahan is a vet with a background in industrial engineering and has a masters’ degree in Technology and Policy. She previously worked as a chemistry teacher and has experience with small businesses and non-profits.


Elaine Luria – Virginia’s 2nd District

Elaine Luria. Photo credit: Stephen Katz

Democrat Elaine Luria defeated GOP incumbent Scott Taylor 51.1% to 48.9%. Luria is a former nuclear engineer and U.S. Navy commander. She worked in the Middle East and the Western Pacific on destroyers, carriers and aircraft carriers. After retiring from the Navy, she started a family business called Mermaid Factory.


Kim Schrier – Washington’s 8th District

Kim Schrier. Photo credit: Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times

Democrat Kim Schrier defeated Republican Dino Rossi by almost 6 points, flipping the 8th district’s open seat after GOP Rep. Dave Reichert’s announced his retirement. Schrier is a pediatrician with a bachelors in astrophysics. Her campaign focused on healthcare and environmental health. She will be the only female physician in the 116th Congress.


Lauren Underwood – Illinois’ 14th District

Lauren Underwood. Photo credit: Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune.

In this historic race, Democrat Lauren Underwood beat GOP incumbent Rep. Randy Hultgren by 3 points becoming the first woman and African-American to represent the district. Underwood is a registered nurse and she was a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration. During her campaign, she focused on issues related to healthcare and education.


Jeff Van Drew – New Jersey’s 2nd District

Jeff Van Drew. Photo credit: Elizabeth Robertson

Democrat Jeff Van Drew beat Republican Seth Grossman 52.3% to 45.9% to take GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo’s open seat. Van Drew has practiced dentistry for over 35 years, and was a New Jersey State Senator before running for Congress. As a state senator, he has sponsored legislation to help children with dyslexia and preserve farmland.