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This article is from the In-Depth Report Science and the U.S. Election

Beyond Obamamania: Uninsured member of Congress wins reelection; Democrats take Colorado races

The big news of the night, of course, was Senator Barack Obama's historic presidential victory. But ScientificAmerican.com was following a number of other races among the hundreds across the country.

In one, Democrat Steve Kagen -- an allergist, pictured to the left -- won a tight race in Wisconsin's 8th District against Republican John Gard. With most precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race in Kagen's favor at about 12:30 A.M. Eastern Standard Time. What makes Kagen noteworthy is that as a freshman member of Congress in 2007, he turned down his Congressional health care coverage, as we reported in May.

"I'll respectfully decline until you can make that same offer for all of my constituents," Kagen, 58, said to a Congressional human resources staffer, explaining his decision to turn down what many call the "Cadillac" of U.S. health plans. Since then, he's introduced his own health care reform bill— and remained healthy, at least through August, when we last checked in with him. Now he has a second term to stay healthy through.

We were also watching Colorado's Senate race, which pitted Republican Bob Schaffer against Democrat Mark Udall. One of the big issues in that race was drilling in the state's Roan Plateau, as we reported in September. This wasn't "drill, baby, drill" versus "don't drill at all." It was more nuanced than that, since both candidates support some kind of drilling for the natural gas under the Roan. 

The Roan's future will presumably be more in Udall's hands than Schaffer's, since Udall took the race. With 66% of precincts reporting, Udall had 53% of the vote, compared to Schaffer's 43 percent. (Fun fact: Udall's cousin, Tom Udall, won the New Mexico Senate race.) Fellow Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette, whom we interviewed earlier this year about her strong feelings about the Bush administration's stance on science—those would be negative -- easily won her seventh term in the state's 1st Congressional District.

Photo courtesy Steve Kagen

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