This story has been updated to include Antonio Delgado, a former Akin Gump attorney who won a House seat in New York.
Among the candidates who claimed victory in the hotly contested midterm elections Tuesday are a number of attorneys who have backgrounds in the world of Big Law.
They include Democrat Colin Allred, who sailed to victory over GOP incumbent Pete Sessions in Texas’s 32nd congressional district; Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, who beat Republican John Culberson in Texas’s 7th district; Mary Gay Scanlon, who defeated Republican candidate Pearl Kim in Pennsylvania’s 5th district; Rebecca “Mikie” Sherrill, who defeated Republican candidate Jay Webber in New Jersey’s 11th district; Gretchen Whitmer, who will be the next governor of Michigan, having defeated Republican nominee Bill Schuette, the state’s attorney general; and Antonio Delgado, who ousted Rep. John Faso in New York’s 19th district seat– one of three defeats of Republican incumbents by first-time Democratic office-seekers in New York.
All of them worked for large U.S. law firms before embarking on political careers.
- Allred worked as a litigator at Perkins Coie with a focus on voting rights and then was an Obama administration appointee to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- Fletcher previously practiced law at Vinson & Elkins and at a smaller Houston firm, Ahmad Zavitsanos Anaipakos Alavi & Mensing.
- Scanlon is a pro bono counsel at Ballard Spahr.
- Sherrill is a former associate at Kirkland & Ellis in New York City.
- Whitmer, who was an attorney in the litigation practice at Dickinson Wright prior to serving in the Michigan House of Representatives and then in the Michigan Senate, returned to Dickinson Wright in 2015 after being term-limited out of the Legislature.
- Delgado is a former litigator in the New York office of Akin Gump.
Not all the ex-Big Law candidates in the 2018 elections were able to claim victory, however. Among those who lost was GOP candidate Barbara Comstock who was defeated in Virginia’s 10th district by Democratic challenger and state Sen. Jennifer Wexton. Comstock is a former Blank Rome lawyer as well as a former chief counsel of the House Oversight Committee. In the latter role, Comstock spearheaded inquiries and investigations into alleged campaign finance violations under the Clinton administration.
The victorious candidates generally sounded cautionary notes about the difficult road that lies ahead for lawmakers in the fractured polity of the U.S. in 2019 and beyond.
Allred said in a tweet: “This victory would not have been made possible without you. This people-powered campaign has made history tonight and North Texans made their voice heard. Now the real work begins. Thank you North Texas!”
Scanlon sent out a similarly positive but nuanced tweet: “Our democracy may not be perfect – but it is our greatest hope, and that of many around the world. And the light of our nation shines a bit brighter today. Each and every one of you share a piece of this victory. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”
A tweet from Whitmer, over a photo of her and Lt. Gov.-elect Garlin Gilchrist, read simply: “Let’s get to work!”