Crimson in Congress

In the aftermath of last November’s elections for the 110th Congress, one Harvard alumnus stood very much alone. Representative Thomas Petri ’62, LL.B. ’65, Republican of Wisconsin, is the sole remaining member of his party in the House to have graduated from, or matriculated in a degree program at, the University.

Thomas Petri
Photograph by Tony Freund

Overall, Harvard’s Capitol Hill alumni (as defined above, for this exercise) will drop from the contingent of 41 who sat in the 109th Congress to a group of 35 in January. That total includes 29 Democrats, equal to the tally in the last session, but only six Republicans (down five). The University’s two new faces are both Democratic House members: John Sarbanes, J.D. ’88, of Maryland, and Joseph Sestak, M.P.A. ’80, K ’82, Ph.D. ’84, of Pennsylvania. (Sarbanes is a son of Maryland’s senior U.S. senator, Paul Sarbanes, J.D. ’60, who is retiring after five terms.) The Democrats’ total will rise by one if Representative William Jefferson, J.D. ’72, of Louisiana, the subject of an FBI bribery probe, wins a run-off election December 9. [Jefferson won the run-off, raising Harvard’s overall total to 36, including 30 Democrats.]

John Sarbanes
Courtesy of Sharon L. Nathanson
Joseph Sestak
Courtesy of Zach Steacy

The thinning of Harvard’s congressional Republicans was not due entirely to the voters. Senator William Frist, M.D. ’78, of Tennessee, stepped down after serving two terms. Representative Christopher Cox, M.B.A. ’75, J.D. ’77, of California, was named chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2005 by a Business School classmate, President Bush. And Katherine Harris, M.P.A. ’97, of Florida, ran unsuccessfully for the Senate. But voters in Connecticut did reject Representatives Nancy Johnson ’57, after 12 terms, and Robert Simmons, G ’73, M.P.A. ’79, who lost by 91 votes after three terms.

Nancy Johnson
Office of Congresswoman Nancy L. Johnson
John Barrow
Office of Congressman John Barrow

On the Democratic side, Representative John Barrow, J.D. ’79, of Georgia faced a hard race, but held onto his seat by 864 votes. The Democratic caucus will welcome Vermont’s new Senate Independent, Bernard Sanders, IOP ’89, who succeeded retiring Independent James Jeffords, LL.B. ’62. Sanders is one of several legislators who have taught at Harvard or participated in Harvard programs. Another is Representative Michael McCaul, SEF ’02, of Texas, who will help Thomas Petri hold up the Republican side.

The line-up at press time (asterisks mark newcomers):

Senate Republicans: Michael D. Crapo, J.D. ’77 (Id.); Elizabeth Dole, M.A. ’60, J.D. ’65 (N.C.); Ted Stevens, LL.B. ’50 (Alaska); John E. Sununu, M.B.A. ’91 (N.H.); David Vitter ’83 (La.).

Senate Democrats: Jeff Bingaman ’65 (N.M.); Russ Feingold, J.D. ’79 (Wisc.); Edward M. Kennedy ’54 (Mass.); Herbert H. Kohl, M.B.A. ’58 (Wisc.); Carl Levin, LL.B. ’59 (Mich.); Barack Obama, J.D. ’91 (Ill.); John F. (Jack) Reed, M.P.P. ’73, J.D. ’82 (R.I.); John D. Rockefeller IV ’58 (W.V.); Charles E. Schumer ’71, J.D. ’74 (N.Y.).

House Republican: Thomas E. Petri ’62, LL.B. ’65 (Wisc.).

House Democrats: Thomas H. Allen, J.D. ’74 (Maine); John Barrow, J.D. ’79 (Ga.); James H. Cooper, J.D. ’80 (Tenn.); Artur Davis ’90, J.D. ’93 (Ala.); Chet Edwards, M.B.A. ’81 (Tex.); Barney Frank ’61, G ’62-’68, J.D. ’77 (Mass.); Jane Harman, J.D. ’69 (Calif.); Brian Higgins, M.P.A. ’96 (N.Y.); Ron Kind ’85 (Wisc.); James R. Langevin, M.P.A. ’94 (R.I.); Sander M. Levin, LL.B. ’57 (Mich.); Stephen F. Lynch, M.P.A. ’99 (Mass.); James D. Matheson ’82 (Utah); *John P. Sarbanes, J.D. ’88 (Md.); Adam B. Schiff, J.D. ’85 (Calif.); Robert C. Scott ’69 (Va.); *Joseph A. Sestak Jr., M.P.A. ’80, K ’82, Ph.D. ’84 (Pa.); Bradley J. Sherman, J.D. ’79 (Calif.); Christopher Van Hollen Jr., M.P.P. ’85 (Md.); David Wu, M ’81 (Ore.).

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