Political flyers, rallies, debate-watching parties and constant chalking in Red Square serve as a strong reminder that the November elections are only four days away.

But as student activists prepare for a final push to persuade undecided voters here in Washington, D.C., other Hoyas are even busier campaigning for their political lives across the country, from Maryland and Texas to South Dakota.

Twenty-one Georgetown alumni, graduates of the classes of 1941 through 1996, are currently running for Congress. Seventeen of the candidates are incumbent office-holders.

The congressional contestants, 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans, are featured in some of the most contentious and high-profile races in the nation.

One of these closely-watched races is Republican Senator Sen. Lisa Murkowski (CAS ’80)’s campaign against former Alaskan Gov. Tony Knowles (D).

Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth (COL ’93, LAW ’96) is defending the South Dakota seat she narrowly won in a June special election against her former opponent Larry Diedrich. Analysts have predicted another close race for Herseth in the Republican-dominated state.

Rep. Martin Frost (LAW ’70), a prominent Texas Democrat in the House of Representatives, has found himself pressed to hold on to his seat after state redistricting following the 2000 census forced him to run in a heavily Republican district. The heated and often bitter confrontation between Frost and another incumbent, Rep. Pete Sessions (R), has attracted nationwide attention.

Frost said that his experiences as a Georgetown law student had prepared him well for his political career.

“I wanted to go to a top-tier school that would provide an intellectual foundation together with the opportunity to experience government first-hand,” Frost said. “Georgetown was a natural fit.”

Frost, now in the final days of campaigning in one of the most competitive races in the country, also encouraged Georgetown students considering future congressional campaigns to take advantage of the public service opportunities, such as internships, present in the District.

Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar (SFS ’78), who defeated incumbent Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) in a hotly-contested primary earlier this year, said that he has enjoyed his experiences on the campaign trail. Because he is running in a heavily Democratic district, a victory by Cuellar is considered likely in Tuesday’s election.

Cuellar praised a diverse and multidisciplinary environment at Georgetown for preparing him to appeal to a multiethnic congressional district that stretches from the Rio Grande valley to central Texas.

“Attending Georgetown was a defining moment in my life,” Cuellar said, praising the “spirit of excelling” that he said pervades the Georgetown campus.

He also encouraged current students to enter the political fray.

“I definitely would say that they need to . soak in the knowledge from Georgetown [and] soak in the dynamic environment you have there,” Cuellar said. “We need new blood, new ideas, [and] new vision.”

Cuellar is one of four non-incumbent Georgetown alumni, including California Republican Dan Lungren (LAW ’71), aryland Republican Tony Salazar (CAS ’82) and Texas Republican Becky Armendariz Klein (SSP ’93), running for Congress this fall.

Scott Fleming (SFS ’72), assistant to the president for federal relations, said Georgetown’s strong tradition of alumni service is largely a result of its strong political science programs and its location in the nation’s capital.

Fleming said that the large number of alumni serving in Congress presents several intangible benefits to students.

“While they represent other constituencies, I have found them to generally provide an open door to hear about work here on our campus and to know what our priorities are,” Fleming said. “Their ties to Georgetown encourage them to return to campus as speakers and to be receptive to Georgetown students seeking internships.”

Klein, who is running against a well-established incumbent in Texas, said that her experience in Georgetown’s national security studies program prepared her well for a congressional campaign, especially for dealing with foreign policy-related issues such as the conflict in Iraq.

She praised the program’s faculty and diverse student body for influencing her eventual decision to run for office.

Klein also said that the connections she formed at Georgetown have led to financial and other support in her political activities. She said the “incredibly rich learning experience” she gained from her years on the Hilltop has helped her develop knowledge and skills that are invaluable to a congressional candidate.

“You exude that when you’re out in public as a candidate,” she said. “And that means votes.”

Salazar, who is running against an incumbent in a predominantly-Democratic district, emphasized the virtues of community service he said he learned as an undergraduate at Georgetown.

He also credited open political dialogue on campus for interesting him in national office, recalling the intense debate between supporters of former President Jimmy Carter and challenger Ronald Reagan when he first arrived on the Hilltop.

If elected, Salazar would become one of 145 alumni, including those currently in office, to serve in Congress. The first alumnus elected to Congress was William Gaston, the 1796 graduate for whom Gaston Hall is named.

Of the Georgetown graduates already serving in Congress, all but one, Sen. Richard Durbin (SFS ’66, LAW ’69), are running for re-election this term.

Fleming said that he already sees signs that Georgetown’s tradition of national political service will continue well into the future.

“I have come to know some remarkable students during my almost four years back on campus, many of whom have expressed an interest in political careers, and a good number of them have the traits that lead me to believe they could very well hold elective office in the years ahead,” Fleming said.

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