Am Law lawyers and advisors running for office had a mixed night at the polls.
As expected,Morgan, Lewis & Bockius appellate litigation partner Ted Cruz, a Tea-Party backed Republican, easily won his U.S. Senate race in Texas against Democratic lawyer Paul Sadler, taking over the seat formerly held by Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison. Cruz was heavily favored to win in Texas, which hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1988, and took nearly 57 percent of the vote—slightly less than what Mitt Romney earned in carrying the state. Cruz, who defeated the better-funded and better-known Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, for the party’s nomination in July, made history by becoming the first Hispanic to win a Senate seat in Texas.
Cruz, who has vowed not to compromise on fiscal issues including debt reduction, continued to strike a defiant tone after winning, telling supportersthat he’d work with Obama, but only if Obama changes. “[If] he wants to go back to the path of the last four years: to more and more spending and debt and taxes and regulations that kill jobs, then I will do everything I can to work to stop us from continuing down that path,” Cruzsaid on Wednesday.
Former Republican Governor of Wisconsin Tommy Thompson, meanwhile, found himself on the wrong side of history as he lost a tight race to U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin, who became the first openly gay person elected to the U.S. Senate, filling the seat vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl. The 70-year-old Thompson, who was bidding to become the oldest person elected to a first term in the Senate, was a giant in Wisconsin politics, having won four terms as governor from 1987 to 2001 before serving as George W. Bush’s Secretary for Health and Human Services. A health care partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld who stepped down in January to run for Senate, Thompson came up short in his political comeback, losing an election for his very first time.
“We fought the good fight and we came up short. But, that doesn’t mean we should stop fighting,” Thompson said in his concession speech late Tuesday evening, making clear he would not run for office again.
Michigan was solid Democratic territory on Tuesday, and that was bad news for Dickstein Shapiro senior advisor Pete Hoesktra. The former Republican U.S. Representative was soundly beaten by incumbent Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow</a> in a race that was called shortly after the polls closed. Hoesktra, who was always facing an uphill battle against thebetter-funded Stabenow, made waves with his campaign tactics, including a controversial Super Bowl ad that many people, including some Republicans, thought was racially insensitive towards Asians.
“It’s very, very hard to run a campaign when you’re being outspent by $9 million to $10 million,” Hoekstra said to reporters after his concession speech on Tuesday. “Clearly we needed more financial resources. We were underfunded, but we did the best with what we had.”
On the House of Representatives front, two New York-based Democratic candidates from Am Law firms won their races on Tuesday evening. Sean Maloney, an energy partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, pulled off a big upset, taking down Tea Party favorite and incumbent Representative Nan Hayworth. Maloney, who won 51.7 percent of the vote, will represent the 18th District in New York, which includes most of Westchester County and part of Rockland County. A former advisor to President Bill Clinton, and New York governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, Maloney began his legal career as an associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher. Meanwhile, former New York Congressman Dan Maffei will return to the House after he unseated Republican incumbent Ann Marie Buerkle in the 24th District in New York, which encompasses Utica and Syracuse. The win was sweet revenge for Maffei, who resigned as senior advisor in government with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, in order to seek a rematch of 2010 when he lost his seat to Buerkle in a Republican landslide.
Ohio may have delivered the White House to President Obama, but that good fortune didn’t extend to Sharen Neuhardt, a Thompson Hine corporate partner. Neuhardt, a Democrat, failed in her bid to unseat Republican incumbent Representative Mike Turner. Neuhardt managed to win less than 40 percentagainst Turner, who was a former Dayton mayor and has served in the House since 2003.
Meanwhile, the counting of Presidential ballots may have lasted well into the night in North Carolina, but the gubernatorial race was over long before that. Moore & Van Allen senior director of strategic initiatives Pat McCrory, a Republican, was easily elected governor with 55 percent of the vote. McCrory, who unsuccessfully ran for governor four years ago, became the first Republican governor of North Carolina in 20 years, defeating Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton.
Some Am Law alums had a mixed night, as well. Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, a former Boies, Schiller & Flexner partner, easily won her first full term as U.S. Senator from New York, defeating former Kirkland & Ellis partner Wendy Long in a landslide. Gillibrand’s Democrat colleague, former Dorsey & Whitney partner Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota,also won in a cakewalkagainst State Representative Kurt Bills. On the other hand, Virginia Republican George Allen, formerly of McGuire Woods Battle & Boothe (now McGuireWoods), failed to win back his old Senate seatas he came up short against Democrat Tim Kaine.
On the gubernatorial front, Democrat Maggie Hassan, an ex-Palmer & Dodge (now Edwards Wildman Palmer) associate, won the New Hampshire governor’s race. Two other gubernatorial races involving former Am Law lawyers have yet to be decided: Democrat Steve Bullock, a former Steptoe & Johnson associate, leads in the Montana governor’s race, while Republican Rob McKenna, a former Perkins Coie associate,trails in the Washington gubernatorial contest.