Election Tuesday proved to be a good day for both the Republican Party and Wesleyan alumni this year. All six Wesleyan candidates running for office emerged victorious.
Incumbent Junior Senator of Colorado Michael Bennet ’87, the son of former University President Douglas Bennet ’59, defeated Republican District Attorney Ken Buck. During the campaign, Bennet portrayed Buck, who was supported by the Tea Party, as an out-of-touch extremist. Though several polls had predicted a Buck victory, Bennet was able to hold onto his seat, receiving 48 percent of the popular vote—799,022 votes. The race was officially called on Nov. 3, with Buck conceding that evening. Bennet thanked Colorado for its support and said he hopes to live up to the trust the state has placed in him by serving well in the Senate.
In the same state, John Hickenlooper ’74 ’80 MA, current Mayor of Denver and last year’s commencement speaker, easily won the 2010 Colorado gubernatorial election. Hickenlooper took 51 percent of the popular vote, defeating Tea Party-backed Independent Tom Tancredo and Republican Dan Maes, who received 37 and 11 percent of the popular vote respectively. With his victory, Hickenlooper has shifted his focus to the transition process, stating that it could affect his entire term in office. He has promised to begin reaching out to people regardless of political affiliation in order to get the economy back on track.
Peter Shumlin ’79, the current President pro tempore of the Vermont Senate, won the 2010 gubernatorial election by defeating Republican Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie. With 97 percent of precincts recording, the Governor-Elect took 49 percent of the popular vote, while Dubie took 48 percent. Current reports say that exactly 3,494 more people voted for Shumlin than Dubie. With his victory, Shumlin hopes to change Vermont for the better, promising to help every Vermonter regardless of their political background.
Right here in Middletown, incumbent State Representative and former Wesleyan student Matt Lesser narrowly defeated his opponent Republican John Szewczyk by about 250 votes. Wesleyan students, particularly the Wesleyan Democrats (WesDems), were involved in the Lesser campaign, and spent time calling and knocking on the doors of many Middletown residents.
“I want to thank the Wesleyan Democrats and all of the volunteers from Wesleyan who helped get out the vote during the past few weeks, particularly the last 96 hours in the city of Middletown,” Lesser said. “We were able to beat all of the projections and turn out a huge number of voters.”
Students who worked on the campaign were also proud of the fruits of their involvement.
“I think we had a major involvement in the victory,” said Ryan Smith ’11, president of WesDems. “We were able to go out every single weekend, identify more people voting, and then remind them to vote. So we certainly contributed to the victory in Middletown.”
Lesser has made renewable energy his top priority as State Representative of Connecticut’s 100th District, which includes Durham, Middlefield, Rockfall, and Middletown.
“My big focus is on investing in renewable energy and lowering electricity rates,” he said. “We need to rethink how we approach energy in this state. We’re also going to face tremendous challenges balancing the budget, particularly protecting funding for education at a time when we’re going to be facing an unfriendly house of representatives.”
In addition, Kathleen Clyde ’01 won a seat on the Ohio State House of Representatives, and Dan Wolf ’79 was elected to the Massachusetts State Senate.