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Taking new seats and retaining old ones, a string of congressional victories for Stanford alums

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Ten Stanford alumni were re-elected to their positions in Congress in Tuesday’s elections — seven in the House of Representatives and three in the Senate. Alumni also successfully challenged incumbents in state and national elections, with Josh Becker J.D. ’98 MBA ’98 securing a California senate seat for the state’s 13th district, and Mondaire Jones ’09 winning in  New York’s 17th district, making him one of the first two openly gay Black congressmen in the House.

Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley ’79 (Ore.), Tina Smith ’80 (Minn.) and Cory Booker ’91 M.A ’92 (N.J.) and Reps. Joaquin Castro ’96 (TX-20), Zoe Lofgren ’70 (CA-19), Ted Lieu ’91 (CA-33) and Adam Schiff ’82 (CA-28) were all re-elected to their seats in Congress. Republican Anthony Gonzalez MBA ’14 (OH-16) also secured a second term in the House. 

Democrats Josh Harder ’08 (CA-10) and Michael Levin ’01 (CA-49) have a strong lead of 19 points and 11 points respectively as of late Tuesday night.

With the exception of Gonzalez, Stanford alumni candidates were generally Democrats, with many representing the more progressive wing of the party and endorsing policies like Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage.

But some alumni did not fare as well. Jackie Fielder ’16 M.A ’16 lost her bid for California’s 11th state senate district. Democratic incumbent Chrissy Houlahan ’89 (PA-6) , who is leading against Republican challenger John Emmons in a tight race, is in a race that has yet to be called.

Joaquin Castro ’96

GAGE SKIDMORE/Wikimedia Commons

Castro, a progressive incumbent, defeated his Republican opponent in a landslide election, maintaining a 30-point lead. Castro recently served as the chairman of his twin brother Julián Castro’s ’96 presidential bid. Joaquin was also the first Latino to deliver the keynote address at a Democratic National Convention.  

Castro graduated Stanford with high honors, having studied political science and communications. He had an early penchant for leadership — he and Julián served in the Undergraduate Senate during their time on campus.    

After graduating from Stanford and from Harvard Law School, Castro went on to work at the prestigious law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, later starting his own clinic. Steadily, he got involved in local politics, and he now embraces unabashedly progressive policies, such as reproductive rights and amnesty for illegal immigrants, as the House representative for Texas’ 20th district. 

Cory Booker ’91 M.A. ’92

AFGE/Wikimedia Commons

Booker also secured a landslide reelection, defeating Republican Rik Mehta and earning six more years in a New Jersey Senate seat. 

At Stanford, Booker was senior class president, a football player and a Bridge peer counselor. In his co-term year, he wrote columns for The Daily that underscored his long-standing passion for racial justice advocacy.

After graduating from Stanford, Booker attended Yale Law School and served as the mayor of Newark beginning in 2002. As mayor, Booker worked to offer clemency for non-violent drug offenders and pushed for gun control reform. He won a Senate seat in a 2013 special election, and in office, he worked to advance criminal justice reform through the landmark First Step Act, which boosted prison rehabilitation efforts. 

Booker’s failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 kept him in the national spotlight. The senator centered his platform on healing division in the country and advancing unapologetically progressive policies, but dropped out in mid-January.

Mondaire Jones ’09

Photo courtesy of Mondaire Jones

Jones’ victory over Maureen McArdle Schuman (R-NY-17) marks the first time that Congress has seated an openly gay Black man. Jones is an attorney who worked at the Department of Justice and the Westchester County law department and champions racial equality and criminal justice reform.

At Stanford, Jones was deeply involved with student government, serving on the Frosh Council and the Undergraduate Senate. He was later elected as ASSU vice president in his senior year. In 2008, when the Palo Alto police chief made public comments endorsing racial profiling, Jones organized his peers, attended hearings in Palo Alto and met with the police department to demand policing reforms, which he and other activists were ultimately able to secure. 

I’ve been working on issues of racial justice for a really long time,” Jones told The Daily in an August Q&A. “So, you know, this effort is personal for me, and the urgency that I feel is informed by my living experiences as a Black man in America.”

Jones, a rising star in the Democratic party, has been backed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), who praised his support for policies that they said would benefit working families. Jones supports the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and a $15 minimum wage. In office, Jones says he will focus on civil rights and criminal justice reform.

Adam Schiff ’82

Wikimedia Commons

Schiff defeated Republican attorney Eric Early to secure his 10th term in the House for California’s 28th district.

Schiff, who has been in Congress since 2001, chairs the House Intelligence Committee and was a key player in the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Schiff recently drew criticism for making a statement on behalf of the House Intelligence Committee indicating that the committee believed that the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Jackie Fielder ’16 M.A ’16

Photo courtesy of Jackie Fielder

In a competitive race for California’s 11th State Senate District, challenger Jackie Fielder ’16 M.A ’16, a democratic socialist, fell to incumbent Scott Weiner (D). Fielder, a queer, Indigenous-Latinx organizer, was viewed as the underdog in the race by polls and pundits alike when she announced her candidacy in November 2019. Her opponent was endorsed by Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D).

Fielder surprised many when she captured one-third of the vote in the March primaries by pitching herself as a progressive alternative to Weiner, whom she criticized for having ties to law enforcement unions and the real estate industry. 

At Stanford, Fielder studied public policy and sociology and served as president of the Inter-Sorority Council (ISC). In 2015, she wrote a Daily op-ed explaining why she deactivated from Greek life after encountering what she described as institutional resistance to changes she proposed to make ISC recruiting more accessible to low-income students like herself. 

After graduating, Fielder joined Indigenous activists to fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline and became a statewide organizer for public banking, co-founding and leading the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition. Fielder also ran the “No on H” campaign in 2018 to “preserve the power of the police commission and stop a dangerous police use of force policy,” according to her website. Later in 2018, Fielder also took over Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza’s Race, Women, and Class course at San Francisco State University. 

“We navigated the most difficult possible terrain and still shattered all expectations and set new precedents,” Campaign Director Roisin Isner said in a statement to The Daily. “Every single person who voted for Jackie chose her, because they’re inspired by her.”

“This campaign was never about just one person,” Fielder added. “This is a movement, and our movement is stronger than ever.”

This article has been corrected to reflect that Houlahan did not lose her election, as a previous version of this article incorrectly stated. The Daily regrets this error.

Contact Sarina Deb at sdeb7 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Yash Dalmia at ydalmia ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Sarina Deb '23 is a Desk Editor for News. She grew up in the Bay Area and is majoring in political science. Contact her at sdeb7 'at' stanford.edu