Put away the petri dish. Turn off the Bunsen burner. When mid-term election results start to roll in next Tuesday, few groups will be as glued to the television as America’s scientists.
In a country grousing for new leadership, the elections will be a referendum on an unpopular president and a chance for science-friendly candidates to hang out a shingle on Capitol Hill. The change could prompt government action on a range of issues.
In New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, Republican incumbent Heather Wilson and Democratic challenger Patricia Madrid have made stem cells and green energy campaign priorities. In California’s 11th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Richard Pombo, a rancher who wants to scuttle the Endangered Species Act, is in a tight race with mathematics Ph.D. and alternative energy advocate Jerry McNerney.
If, as projected, Democrats like McNerney take control of the House, they will almost certainly attempt to usher in a more hospitable environment for scientific research and innovation. “You will see a greater concentration on science,” said Alisha Prather, communications director for the Science Committee Democrats in the House. “There’s a widely recognized feeling among Democrats that our country needs to do more from a science and math perspective if we want to remain world leaders.”
In related news, Sen. Ted “It’s a Series of Tubes!” Stevens rated as more tech-saavy than our very own Mike DeWine. Not exactly the kind of strong leadership we need to help move Ohio ahead in the technology race.