Scientist wins surprise victory for Congressional seat

I try not to post on politics - we have enough political bloggers! - but when science and politics intersect, I feel it's appropriate for scientists to weigh in. Coming on the recent bad news about the public's understanding of science concerning autism and vaccines, yesterday saw a surprising bit of good news. In the race for a "solidly conservative" Congressional seat, a scientist - Bill Foster - who is also a Democrat, defeated his strongly favored Republican opponent. Why is this a surprise? Because Foster won the seat in Illinois that was held for the past two decades by Dennis Hastert, who was Speaker of the House until 2006. The Republican in the race was Hastert's hand-picked successor, but the voters had other ideas.

Bill Foster worked for 22 years as a physicist at Fermilabs (the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory), one of the country's top physics research facilities. A group that I belong to, Scientists and Engineers for America, supported Foster's campaign, but I thought it was a real long shot. His victory is a win for rationalism and science. Bravo to the voters of Illinois for choosing him! Perhaps there is reason for hope for more progress like this in the future.

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