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Eph Politics Round-Up

Kudos to Senator Mark Udall ’72 for batting lead-off in the U.S. Senate’s It Gets Better Video. Nice to see Ephs and Jeffs coming together on this (it also features Amherst alum Chris Coons). Of course, one group is conspicuous in its absence from this video …

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and “conservative legal star” (or at least former star) Judge Jeffrey Sutton ’83 was the decisive vote in upholding the constitutionality of the individual insurance mandate in Obama’s health care law. In so doing, Sutton was the first Republican appointee to rule in the administration’s favor.

Congratulations to Congressman Chris Murphy ’96 for receiving UConn’s (where he attended law school) Graduate of the Last Decade award. Murphy, who has been in the news thanks to his proposed Supreme Court Transparency and Disclosure Act, is off to a tremendous start in his campaign for Senate, leading the fundraising race on the Democratic side.

By the way, if Williams had a “graduate of the last decade” type award, who would the candidates be?


Classic Colbert: Mark Udall

There is no greater honor in American society today than a guest appearance on the Colbert Report.  Accordingly, any Eph who makes such an appearance deserves, at the very least, to be featured on Ephblog.  One we missed from a number of years ago: Senator (then Congressman) Mark Udall ’72, who was one of the first members of the House to brave Colbert’s brilliant “Better Know a District” segment.  If you’d like to see an Eph challenged to “disagree” with the statement “I hate Nazis,” this is your chance to do so.  No doubt, Udall attributes his subsequent political rise to this segment.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Better Know a District – Colorado’s 2nd – Mark Udall
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Eph Reactions To the Death of Bin Laden

A sampling from across the political and intellectual spectrum:


Udall ’72: Can’t We All Get Along?

Mark Udall ’72’s proposal that the parties intermingle during the forthcoming State of the Union address seems to be gaining steam.  Good to see an Eph doing his part to bring people together!  (Of course, if he asks me to sit with Amherst alums at the next football game, well, that is a bridge too far, Senator Udall).


Prieto Battery and Alternative Energy Ephs

Check out this great article on Amy Prieto ’96’s research into creating a more powerful, cheaper, and longer lasting battery.  Prieto is an assistant chemistry prof at Colorado State, in addition to heading Prieto Battery.  Between Prieto and the equally revolutionary work being performed by Joshua Smith ’91, we could someday be thanking a small handful of Ephs for helping usher in a new generation of alternative energy sources.  [Rumor has it that Amherst alums have taken a slightly different energy approach].

Other Ephs working in the alternative energy arena (and I’m sure there are others) include Wayne Davis ’78, Vice President at Harvest Power, Samuel Arons ’04, a member of Google’s Green Business Strategy Team who has written about hybrid vehicles, Christopher Elkinton ’98, who works as a wind turbine engineer, Kristina Weyer ’03 (who like Prieto was affiliated with Colorado State), who works on algae-to-biodiesel energy at Solix Biofuels, and Alex Mokover ’10, who is immersed in alternative energy policy.  And of course, Senator Mark Udall ’72 is one of the leading advocates for alternative energy production in Congress.

Considering (a) the huge opportunities in this field, (b) Williams’ continued excellence in Geology, Chemistry, and Physics, and (c) the efforts of the Zilkha Center on promoting sustainability initiatives on campus, I imagine that Williams will continue to produce the next wave of alternative energy researchers, policy-makers and entrepeneurs.


Ditch Metaphor

Senator Mark Udall ’72 is fortunate that he is not running for re-election this year.

Keys, please.


Stapleton ’96 Wins Treasurer Primary

Congrats to Walker Stapleton ’96, who won the Republican primary for Colorado state Treasurer. I seem to recall Walker being heavily involved in leadership roles of conservative campus activities back in the day, including the Observer / Free Press (too bad those aren’t around any more, Kane would have had a field day featuring their articles) and the college Republicans.  And of course, thanks to his family connections, the Class of 1996 was treated to a commencement address by George H.W. Bush.  If Walker wins, he will face the same dilemma as many state-level budget managers: budgets that are absolutely crippled by unfunded pension liabilities which states simply can’t afford, but limitations on the ability to control those costs due to the (justifiable) claim by those owed benefits that the pensions constitute a form of contractually-mandated deferred compensation.  A Catch-22 of staggering proportions, without any easy answers …

If Walker wins his election in November, three of the most powerful people in Colorado will be Ephs (the others are U.S. Attorney John Walsh ’83 and Senator Mark Udall ’72).  Must be the mountains …


John Walsh ’83 Nominated …

for U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado.  (For those who don’t know, that is the chief federal law enforcement official in the state of Colorado).   It sounds as if, unlike a previous nominee for the same post, Walsh’s confirmation should be a breeze.  There is an odd confluence of powerful Ephs in Colorado, between Walsh and Senator Udall, with Walker Stapleton ’96 hoping to join them with his bid for State Treasurer.  Must be the draw of the mountains … Udall, unsurprisingly, had only good things to say about his fellow Eph.


Eph Politics Round-up

  • In May, once [and future?] Congressman Ed Case ’75 is hoping to recapture a seat in the House and, in the process, avoid contributing to another special election disaster (from a Democratic perspective).  He and another Democrat are threatening to split the vote and allow a GOP’er to capture a heavily Democratic district.  Although Case is far more well-known than either of his opponents, he burned a LOT of local bridges with his decision to wage an ultimately unsuccessful primary battle against long-term Senator Daniel Akaka.  Even still, Case is leading in the polls.
  • Chris Murphy ’96 is in the opposite situation: a Democrat in a district that has long leaned Republican.  As such, he faces an uphill battle in defending his vote in favor of the health care bill.  If anyone can do it, however, it is the  always articulate, personable, and down-to-earth Murphy.  If you ever wanted to see action shots of an Eph Congressman, click on that link for an oddly voluminous slide show of Murphy in mid-sentence.
  • Meanwhile, Murphy’s classmate Walker Stapleton, who hails from an impressive political lineage on both sides of his family, is diving into politics with his run for Colorado GOP State Treasurer.
  • Op-Ed from Senator Mark Udall ’72 concerning renewable energy. 

Udall ’72 on Environmental Issues

Interesting discussion with Senator Mark Udall, focused largely on environmental issues.  Udall also recently hosted a Clean Energy Summit.


Eph Politics Round-up

Lots of Ephs continue to make news in the world of politics:

  • In her bid for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, Martha Coakley ’75 seems to be pulling away from the field, as reflected by the hoards of Massachusetts politicians (none of whom are likely to back an unlikely winner) endorsing her.
  • Recent polls show that Mike McGinn ’82’s run for Seattle Mayor is likely to go down to the wire.
  • Nice feature on the current Eph Senator, Mark Udall ’72.
  • Brian Werner ’01, IT consultant and member of the “Church of Celebritology” — really, is running for Telluride Town Council.
  • Steve Kelley ’75 is one of many in a crowded Minnesota Governor primary field.  Check here for Kelley’s website, including a link to his Facebook page.
  • Chris Murphy ’96, one of the “best fighters in Congress for health reform,” seems to be playing a prominent role in the House efforts to reach consensus on health care.  It’s a good sign, by the way, when even prospective opponents are applauding your constituent service.
  • In local political news, North Adams Mayor (and dead ringer for Mayor Quimby) Barrett is fighting for his political life against an MCLA professor.  This article discusses the race and notes one of Barrett’s Williams connections.
  • Finally, in old-school political “news,” who knew that an Eph, George William Hunter, Jr., class of 1896, wrote the book at the center of the Scopes trial?  Wild stuff.

Convocation ’09

Tomorrows convocation panel discussion sounds like a diverse mix of Ephs. The theme is “Inspired Lives- Paths Well Traveled”

Convocation event featuring Bicentennial Medalists in a panel discussion where they will share their life stories. Bicentennial Medals recognize distinguished Williams alumni for “significant achievement in any field of endeavor.” Medalists are:

The Honorable Karen Ashby ’79 The first African American woman appointed to the bench in the state of Colorado, she is a nationally recognized expert in matters pertaining to juvenile and family law.

Mika Brzezinski ’89 A television news journalist with star power, she is a familiar anchor on a host of NBC shows including MSNBC’s Morning Joe, NBC Nightly News, and Weekend Today.

Gary Fisketjon ’76 Vice president at Alfred A. Knopf, he has been honored for “discovering, nurturing and championing writers of fiction” and is considered an editorial master by established writers worldwide.

John F. Raynolds ’51 This innovator devised strategies that led to development of the U.S. Navy Seals and steered Outward Bound, USA, through its largest growth in history, all the while inspiring others through his speaking and writing.

Senator Mark E. Udall ’72 An accomplished mountain climber, the Senator from Colorado is nationally recognized for his steadfast commitment to addressing challenging environmental issues, including his early support for alternative energy.


Sounds good to me. I hope someone can report back.


Senator Udall ’72 Convocation Speaker?

udall-portraitAccording to this anonymous comment, Colorado Senator Mark Udall ’72 will be the Convocation Speaker next month and, presumably, a Bicentennial Medal awardee. Can anyone confirm? Can ’10 provide more details? There is nothing at the Williams website. Most EphBlog anonymous tips like this end up being true, so, if you are a Udall fan, make your reservations now.

UPDATE: Confirmed, as expected. See below for the e-mail that went out to all seniors more than two weeks ago. We need a senior to join us an an author at EphBlog, or just to pass along this sort of news. I will save my deconstruction of the descriptions of some of the Bicentennial Medal winners for another post.

Read more


Gun Debate from Speak Up

Most of the chat on Speak Up gets deleted after a period of time, but there was a particularly spirited debate regarding gun laws, that I thought was worth archiving. It began with a comment and link posted by Jeff Z:

“The gun bill *mentioned above BARELY failed. Eph [Mark] Udall (Colorado) one of 20 dems to vote yes. Uggghhh.”

And the rest follows below the fold.

*(article referred to at beginning of thread now linked here)

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Political Aristocracy

Is Senator Mark Udall ’72 just another politician?

The Senate today voted to give Wall Street another $350 billion today. The vote tells us a lot about the new Senate (you can see the full tally here – and remember, on this vote, a “yes” vote was a vote against releasing the $350 billion bailout tranche).

For instance, both Tom and Mark Udall (D-CO), who voted against the bailout in the House when running for the Senate, switched their votes to support the bailout. You may recall that Mark Udall said he was against the bailout not because he didn’t trust George Bush, but specifically because he was against voting for a bill that had no oversight measures. And yet now he’s voting for the same bailout that includes no new oversight measures. This suggests that the Udalls (like lots of political aristocracy) have absolutely no principles – that, in fact, they are the worst stereotype of politicians: The kind of people who go populist when facing election, and then goes corporatist when he’s comfortably insulated in Washington.

And this is surprising because . . .


Open Election Thread

Feel compelled to howl your political opinions out into the intervoid? This is the thread for you! The Eph-related campaigns to keep an eye on include Chris Murphy ’96 for Congress in Connecticut and Mark Udall ’72 for Senate in Colorado. Are there any others?

Also, who are the Ephs most likely to be named to powerful positions in an Obama administration? Perhaps Obama will remember his high school classmate Bennett Yort ’83.

When Bennett A. Yort graduated from Hawaii’s Punahou School in 1979, he says, he had little inkling the quiet, skinny classmate friends called Barry could one day make history.

“Barry was just one of the boys,” Mr. Yort, a financial planner at Merrill Lynch of Augusta, said about Barack Obama.. “A very regular guy.”

Earlier this week, sitting in his living room and thumbing through his 1979 yearbook, Mr. Yort recalled 30 years ago when the two were schoolmates.

Mr. Yort, 47, said he couldn’t describe his and Mr. Obama’s friendship as close, but they did share classes and were “cordial.”

I am not sure that “cordial” will get Yort a spot in the Executive Office Building.


Times Endorses Murphy ’96

The New York Times endorses Democrat Chris Murphy ’96 for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional district. (Thanks to David Kane ’58 for the link.)

Chris Murphy, a Democrat, faces his first run for re-election. His opponent, David Cappiello, is a Republican state senator with a reputation for independence. As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Murphy backed the credit card bill of rights and legislation to help homeowners refinance and thus keep their homes. We endorse Chris Murphy.

AFAIK, the only other Eph running for Congress is Mark Udall ’72, Democratic candidate for senator in Colorado. Are there any others? What about other major offices? The Williams Public Affairs office relies on EphBlog to create/maintain this list. Please help us help them.



A New York Times article discusses the runs Congressmen Mark Udall ’72 (Colorado) and his cousin Tom Udall (New Mexico) are making for open Senate seats. It explores speculation that their “green” histories may hurt them with some voters who are worried by the economic downturn, and poses these two races as a test of whether Democrats are ascendant in the West.


Mark Udall ’72 running for Senate

Mark Udall ’72 is running for Senate in Colorado. His history, from the site:

Udall was born July 18, 1950, in Tucson, Arizona, and has spent his entire adult life in Colorado. He graduated from Williams College in 1972 with a bachelor’s degree in American Civilization. Udall developed a long and successful career with the Colorado Outward Bound School, as a course director and educator from 1975-85 and as the organization’s Executive Director from 1985-95.

I did not know there was such a degree at Williams. He sounds like a neat guy.

He says:

Our country is facing historic challenges at home and abroad. We must find a way to end the costly war in Iraq, rebuild our armed forces and fight a more effective war against terrorism. We must restore fiscal sanity to our national budget and prepare our kids for the economy of the future. We need a dramatic new energy policy that will create jobs and break our dependence on foreign oil. We also need to expand quality and affordable health care for all of our citizens.

(Request for this post in previous comments. Photo from linked site.)


No Udall Fan

Michelle Malkin is not a fan of Congressman Mark Udall ’72. Is this the sort of stuff that my critics had in mind when they claimed that Udall had not demonstrated as much “distinguished achievement” as Martha Coakley ’75 and was, therefore, not as deserving of a Bicentennial Medal? Just asking!


Ephs Running for Office

The Public Affairs office is looking for a list of all the Ephs running for public office. Let’s make one! I’ll start with:

Bill Harsch ’60 for Rhode Island Attorney General.

Martha Coakley
’75 for Massachusetts Attorney General.
Chris Murphy ’96 for Congress (CT-5).

And don’t forget Ephs like Ed Case ’75 (D-Hawaii) and Peter Monroe ’65 (R-Florida) who lost in their party primaries.

But surely there are others . . .


Mr. Eph Goes to Washington

I had thought that there weren’t any Ephs currently serving in Congress, but I was wrong. [Again? — ed Give me a break. I was out partying with Jim Shepard last night!] Congressman Mark Udall, D-Colo, is class of 1972. Udall

is no stranger to the world of public service, having come from a family where devotion to service is both a goal and a reality. His father, Morris “Mo” Udall, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years and ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1976. His uncle, Stewart, is widely revered for his accomplishments while serving as secretary of the interior under President Kennedy. Udall worked on his father’s presidential campaign, marking the beginning of his own active involvement in the political process.

Udall is clearly someone that the Political Economy folks should consider visiting during their spring break pilgrimage to Washington.


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