Physicist Rush Holt knows a little about black holes--especially now that he has escaped from an election day whirlpool that threatened to suck his political career into oblivion. Democrat Holt, one of the few scientists in Congress, yesterday capped a dramatic come-from-behind victory by accepting his opponent's concession. In a New Jersey congressional race that was one of the closest in the nation, Holt beat Republican Dick Zimmer by 755 votes out of nearly 300,000 cast.
Many scientists welcomed the news that one of their own would be returning to Washington--especially since many political observers predicted that Holt, first elected by a razor-thin margin 2 years ago, would have trouble holding his Republican-leaning district. Indeed, Holt seemed headed for an exit on election night, as Zimmer pulled ahead. Then Holt edged back into the race with a 56 vote lead, which swelled after absentee ballots were counted (ScienceNow, 8 November). When Zimmer demanded a recount, it added to Holt's total. "I had hoped the recount would narrow the margin, but in fact the ball bounced in the other direction," Zimmer said in his concession speech yesterday.
Holt savored his win. "It was a long election night that has gone on for a couple of weeks," said Holt, a former associate director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey. He will be reunited in the next Congress with another physicist-turned-politician, Republican Vern Ehlers (MI), who easily won reelection.