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In national elections three YDS alumni win, two lose

In the Nov. 2 national elections, three Yale Divinity School alumni prevailed, while two suffered defeat at the hands of opponents.

CoonsIn a race that was prominent nationally, Democrat Chris Coons ’92 M.A.R., ’92 J.D. defeated Tea Party supported Christine O’Donnell in Delaware for the Senate seat formerly held by Vice President Joseph Biden.

“Today, you set a message that the politics of ‘no,’ the politics of division, have no place in this great state.  Delaware wants, Delaware deserves, not slogans, but solutions to your concerns,” Coons was quoted as saying in The Community News of Hockessin, DE.  “I pledge to you, to all the working families in Delaware, to get our state and our nation back on track.”

Coons won by a margin of about 16 percentage points.

The Delaware contest was seen as a key race nationally, as Republicans were hoping a win there could help them gain a majority in the Senate.  However, that strategy foundered when O’Donnell, with substantial Tea Party support and an endorsement by Sarah Palin, won the Republican primary over Michael Castle, a longtime GOP congressman and former governor.

An article about Coons appeared in the September 2010 Notes from the Quad, and O’Donnell had sought to use Coons’s statement in that article—about using “principles and values that were honed at YDS”—in public life against him.

Among the other two YDS winners were David Price ’64 B.D., ’69 Ph.D. a longtime Democratic Congressman representing North Carolina’s 4th District, and Lois Capps ’64 M.A.R., a Democrat who has represented California’s 23rd District for more than a decade.

Price won the 2010 race handily, by about 14 percent points.  Before entering Congress in 1987, he was a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University. His district includes the Research Triangle Park area, which encompasses three major universities: Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University.

“I’m going to go back to Washington more determined than ever to bring this economy back to health, to put Americans back to work and to extend the Triangle dream for generations to come,” Price said in his victory speech, according to a report by The Daily Tarheel, the student newspaper of the University of North Carolina.

Capps, a nurse by profession, is very active on issues of public health and serves as vice chair of the Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. She was a supporter of the controversial Affordable Health Care of America Act.

After winning the contest by almost 20 percentage points, she told The Daily Sound in Santa Barbara, “It was an exhausting race.  I applaud anyone who runs for office, it is not an easy thing to do.  But, our win, along with some of the other Democratic wins, signal a new era for California.  Now we’ve got to go to work.”

Rebekah Davis ’06 M.Div., a Democrat, and Samuel Caligiuri ’96 M.Div., a Republican, both lost in their attempts to gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Davis fought an uphill battle in heavily Republican Nebraska, running an active campaign in the Third Congressional District on a shoestring budget but losing by some 50 percentage points to Adrian Smith, a two-term incumbent with one of the strongest conservative ratings in the House.  All three Democratic candidates for the House in Nebraska lost by wide margins.  An interview with Davis appeared in the September 2010 issue of Notes from the Quad, alongside the interview with Coons.

In Connecticut’s Fifth District, Samuel Caligiuri lost a fairly tight race against incumbent Democrat Chris Murphy where health care was a central issue.  Caligiuri had said he would vote to repeal the new health care law.


“We ran as well as we did because, ultimately, so many people felt our country was headed in the wrong direction," Caligiuri told reporters, according to an account in the Hartford Courant.  "If Congressman Murphy becomes more fiscally conservative … then this campaign will have been successful, even if we came up short from a vote perspective."