A Record-Breaking Number of STEM Candidates Ran for Office This Year

Scientists and activists at the March for Science in Washington, D.C. in April 2017.

Scientists and activists at the March for Science in Washington, D.C. in April 2017. Molly Adams/Flickr

More than 450 candidates with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math ran — or are still running — for federal, state, and local office this midterm election, according to CBS News. Forty-eight of those vied for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives; 18 made it through their primaries for Congress and are on the ballot this November, according to Science magazine.

The 18 STEM candidates running for the House in the general election represent districts from Texas and Arizona to Illinois and Michigan. All but one — radiologist and former chief U.S. Navy medical officer Steve Ferrara in Arizona’s 9th District — are Democrats. Their scientific fields range from medicine, biochemistry, and oceanography to aerospace, civil, and industrial engineering. Two candidates with STEM backgrounds are running for U.S. Senate — Democrats Phil Bredesen of Tennessee and Jacky Rosen of Nevada — and another 60 are on the ballot for state and local positions this November.

“Scientists are not interested in becoming political leaders so that they can politicize the science,” said former Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy. “They want to join so that the science cannot be politicized.”

The number of candidates with science backgrounds surged following the election of Donald Trump in 2016, according to 314 Action, a nonprofit political action committee that trains scientists how to run for office. The PAC says it was contacted by 7,500 scientists this midterm election. “It has gone from what felt like a war on science to an all-out war on facts and that has acted as a catalyst,” Shaughnessy Naughton, president of the PAC, told CBS News.