Stanford alums find success in 2018 midterm elections

Nov. 7, 2018, 1:36 a.m.

Several Stanford alumni were re-elected to their positions in Congress in Tuesday’s midterm elections, including Democratic U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein ’55 (D-CA) and Tina Smith ’80 (D-MN), along with several members of the House of Representatives. California Attorney-General Xavier Becerra ’80 J.D. ’84 was also re-elected to his position. 

In the House races, at least seven Stanford alums maintained their congressional seats, including Joaquín Castro ’96 (D-TX), Joseph P. Kennedy III ’03 (D-MA), Ted Lieu ’91(D-CA), Dan Lipinski ’89 (D-IL), Zoe Lofgren ’70 (D-CA), Adam Schiff ’82 (D-CA) and Jim Sensenbrenner ’65 (R-WI).


Becerra’s victory in the Attorney General (AG) race secured him four more years in office, after he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2017 to replace Senator Kamala Harris. California’s AG looks over a wide range of issues from public safety to local law enforcement agencies to state legal services.

In Sept. 2017, Becerra supported Judge Aaron Persky’s ’84 M.A. ’85 recall campaign against Brock Turner, a former Stanford swimmer convicted of three felony counts of sexual assault. Becerra is also known for opposing President Trump on several issues — in Sep. 2017 the Attorney General criticized Trump’s anti-immigrant border wall policy in an event hosted by Stanford in Government.

Current Missouri attorney general Josh Hawley ’02 (R-MO) also unseated Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill in one of the most expensive Senate races in history after he successfully painted McCaskill as too liberal for Missouri. At only 38 years old, Hawley will be one of the Senate’s youngest members.


After graduating from Stanford with a bachelor’s degree in history,  Feinstein went on to work in San Francisco’s city government and later served as the first female mayor of San Francisco. Feinstein eventually won a Senate seat in 1992 when she and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) were elected as the state’s first female United States Senators. She has since been re-elected four consecutive times.

However, Feinstein’s history of election wins does not begin with the United States’ upper chamber — in 1954, Feinstein was elected to the ASSU as student body vice president with 63 percent of the vote. She was also politically active on campus, establishing a Young Democrats’ Stanford chapter in her senior year as an undergraduate.

On Tuesday, Feinstein defeated State Senator Kevin de León (D-CA), despite losing the Democratic party’s official endorsement to him.


At Stanford, Smith studied political science but also explored her interests in business, which eventually led to her take a job in marketing at General Mills.

Smith refocused her career on politics when she began to manage campaigns in Minnesota, including former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale’s Senate campaign and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s gubernatorial campaign. She also served for several years as lieutenant governor from 2015 to 2018.

In Jan. 2018, Smith was appointed to Minnesota’s Senate seat by Governor Mark Dayton to replace former Senator Al Franken, who resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Feinstein and Smith — both Democrats — will be returning to a Senate that, after Tuesday night, still remains in Republican control.


Erin Woo contributed reporting.

Contact Elena Shao at eshao98 ‘at’

Elena Shao '21 is from Suwanee, Georgia. At The Daily, she is a Managing Editor for News. Outside, she's studying political science. She also enjoys learning foreign languages and is hoping to pursue a career as an investigative and data journalist. Contact her at eshao98 'at'

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