Alumni hold and gain seats in Congress in historical election

Nov. 5, 2008, 4:01 p.m.

Three Princeton University alumni won their first congressional terms and two others won re-election in Tuesday's historic vote in which the United States picked Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., as its first African American president.

In New Jersey, Republican Leonard Lance, a 1982 graduate alumnus of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, won the House race for the state's 7th Congressional District, currently held by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson, who did not seek a new term.

In Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis '96 won the contest for Colorado's 2nd District, which had been held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, who ran a successful campaign for the U.S. Senate instead of seeking another term in the House.

In Oregon, Democrat Jeffrey Merkley, a 1982 graduate alumnus of the Woodrow Wilson School, was declared the winner over Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith in an election that had been too close to call before Thursday.

The two Princeton alumni who retained their House seats are Rep. James Marshall II '72, D-Ga., and John Sarbanes '84, D-Md. Marshall was elected to a fourth term and Sarbanes to a second.

The other Princeton alumnus in Congress, Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond '60, R-Mo., was not up for re-election this year.

Obama's decisive victory over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in the presidential race also makes Michelle Obama '85 the first Princeton alumna to be first lady of the United States and the first African American woman in that role.

Republican Indiana Gov. Mitchell Daniels Jr. '71, the only Princeton alumnus seeking a new gubernatorial term this year, won his campaign for a second term, according to unofficial results.