Rep. Rush Holt, five-time “Jeopardy!” champion who also beat IBM's supercomputer Watson, former assistant director of the Plasma Physics Lab, and a bonafide rocket scientist will be retiring from Congress at the end of this term:
“From my point of view, Congress, even with its frustrations, is the greatest instrument for justice and human welfare in the world,” he said, citing the debt-ceiling extension passed last week despite doubters. “The stories trying to puzzle out why someone would do something else are based on this rather narrow way of thinking that the only purpose for a member of Congress is to be re-elected. I’ve never viewed it that way, and I think everybody who’s worked with me knows that I think there are a lot of things that I can and should be doing.”As noted, this will unlikely result in a Republican pick up, but Congress will be losing a very smart guy and major advocate for science.
Mr. Holt’s retirement is not expected to affect the Democrats’ chances in 2014; a seat that he barely wrested from a Republican in 1998 has been made reliably Democratic in two redistrictings.
He has consistently pushed for more money for scientific research, and better science education, securing $22 billion for research in the stimulus bill, and grants of $16,000 for students who prepare to teach math, science or foreign languages.
“I’m not sure we have anyone in the Congress with his level of deep understanding of what it is going to take for the American scientific enterprise to thrive in the future,” said Shirley M. Tilghman, a molecular biologist and former president of Princeton.