Voters across the country will decide Tuesday if a slew of GW students, alumni and faculty running in the midterm elections are best suited to take office.
Alumni running for Congress are in some of the most highly contested races. Tim Mahoney, who received his MBA from GW in 1983, is running for U.S. representative in Florida’s 16th district, which was represented by Mark Foley until his resignation in October. Elliott School alumna Tammy Duckworth is the Democratic opponent in another very tight congressional race.
Mahoney is up against Republican candidate Joe Negron, who will receive votes for those who mark Foley’s name on the ballot. Foley stepped down after publicity surrounding inappropriate online conversations with congressional pages.
“It’s very flattering to be getting all of this media attention,” Mahoney said in a C-SPAN interview Oct. 26. “It’s unfortunate that we’re at a point in time in 2006 where we’re having to have a discussion about values – about whether or not power is more important than protecting kids.”
Mahoney said while he was working on his MBA from GW, which was funded through a job with General Electric, he was inspired to be an entrepreneur. After leaving D.C., Mahoney worked with a personal computer company in Cleveland, Ohio, before moving to Florida in 1988.
Duckworth, who received an M.A. in international affairs in 1992, is running against Peter Roskam for the U.S. representative seat in the 6th district of Illinois. Duckworth, who lost both her legs serving for the Illinois Army Reserve in Iraq, is featured on the Elliott School’s Web site.
“It was incredibly exciting to be in Washington, D.C., and at a school where I could have contact with the same world leaders whose work I was studying,” Duckworth said in an interview with the Elliot School. “I cannot imagine anything more valuable to a young person than to be able to compliment my academic work with access to people who had achieved great success in the field that I was studying.”
The war veteran spoke about personal experiences in terms of her largest campaign issue: health care.
“I realize that some people may be tempted to view this race through the prism of what I have experienced,” Duckworth said. “If that’s the case, then I would hope that it’s a reflection of what our country must do in the area of health care, and making such care accessible to all Americans who need it.”
Democratic candidate Paul Aronsohn, who received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in political communication from GW, is running for a congressional seat in New Jersey’s fifth district. He is up against incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett.
Aronsohn enrolled as an undergraduate in 1985 and said he came to GW because it was one of the first schools to offer a political communication program.
“It was perfect because at this time it combined political science, journalism, communication and psychology,” he said in an interview Saturday. “I loved the GW experience both from the school perspective but also the public service.”
Aronsohn said he served on the Program Board as the political activities coordinator for two years and as chair for a year. He said he also volunteered through his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and at Miriam’s Kitchen. He said he was also involved in the College Democrats and the Black People’s Union, “even though (he’s) not black.”
He is running for a seat that has been held by Republicans for 26 years, but said he believes he has a good chance. “I’m realistic in knowing that we can lose this, but I know that we can also win this.”
2006 graduate Mark Harris is challenging Democrat Matt Smith for a state representative seat in Pennsylvania. Harris, who won the Republican primary against the two-term incumbent Tim Stevenson, said he received a lot of political experience in D.C.
Senior L. Asher Corson is running against incumbent Anne Savage for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, an elected body that advises D.C. government on local issues. The Columbian College student said he wanted to run to help bridge the gap between the neighborhood and the University.
“(Savage) has been serving for two years, and it is pretty clear that she hasn’t worked well with other ANC commissioners,” Corson told The Hatchet last month. “(I) could give a unique perspective to the table as a property owner and student.”
Law professor Mary Cheh won the Democratic nomination for the Ward 1 City Council seat against fellow professor Erik Gaull.
A major issue in the race has been Cheh’s commitment to stay at GW should she win. She said she would continue teaching while a councilmember, despite the possibility of conflicts of interest.
“It’s rather rare for something directly affecting the University to come to the council instead of zoning officials,” she told The Hatchet last month. “If something did come up, I could always recuse myself.”
In another race with a GW connection – though not quite as direct – Republican senatorial candidate Michael Steele, is running against U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin. Steele, who would be the first black Maryland senator, took summer classes at GW in order to bring up his GPA after failing out of Johns Hopkins, according to a Southern Maryland Online article. Steele’s mother was disappointed with his low grades at Hopkins and told him to do whatever necessary to re-enroll.