Reading Time: 2 minutes Jason Westin JASON WESTIN FOR CONGRESS
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Bloody good luck to this chap!


But this is Texas, you know… elucidates:

As election day neared, Jason Westin thought he had a good shot at keeping alive his bid for a seat in the U.S. Congress.

Informal polling showed that Westin, a clinical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, was running second to attorney Lizzie Fletcher in a crowded race to choose a Democratic standard bearer for the 7th congressional district in Texas. Assuming the winner didn’t capture a majority of the vote, second place would be good enough to get Westin into a May runoff for the chance to unseat Representative John Culberson, a nine-term Republican who chairs a spending panel that shapes the budgets of several federal research agencies.

But Westin, a first-time candidate, was about to learn a hard lesson, namely, that a candidate’s fate can be determined by events beyond his or her control. Twelve days before the 6 March primary, national Democratic party leaders attacked one of his opponents, Laura Moser, saying she was too liberal to beat Culberson in the November general election.

In theory, the unusual move should have helped Westin by wounding a major rival. But many political observers think it backfired, allowing Moser to portray herself as a victim of outside interference and parley the episode into a second-place showing behind Fletcher, who topped the seven-person field. Westin finished third, putting an abrupt end to his nascent bid for national office. And he can’t help thinking the attack played a role in his defeat.

“It’s hard to figure out what might have happened if they hadn’t done that,” Westin says, referring to the 22 February attack on Moser by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), based in Washington, D.C. “But it seemed like it might have had an impact because [beforehand] we were not seeing a lot of people who were choosing between us and Miss Moser at the last minute. It’s hard to be confident that it didn’t have an impact on the race. And I sure wish they hadn’t done it.”

Although he had hoped for a different result, Westin says he’s not bitter about his loss. He sees several positives outcomes from his year-long quest to enter national politics, both personally and professionally.

“I think I grew to become a really proficient candidate, in terms of speaking in public on policy issues,” says the 40-year-old Florida native, who got his first taste of politics as a college intern for then U.S. Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) before opting for medical school and a career in cancer research. “My campaign showed not only that I could do this, but also that my message about the relevance of science in policymaking can resonate with voters.”

“I think there’s a role for that in American politics, to stand up for science. And that’s something we need more candidates to do in the future.”

Dang. I hope he runs again. Continue reading the above article for more details on that.

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...