DMS professor may run to replace Sununu in Senate
By Victoria Boggiano
Published on Thursday, March 1, 2007
After spending 16 days in space orbiting the Earth 256 times and over 10 years overseeing the use of high-pressure oxygen at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, former astronaut and current Dartmouth Medical School professor Jay Buckey announced Monday that he is considering a Democratic bid to replace Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., in the 2008 Congressional elections.
"I decided this was the best way to take action," he said.
"I feel that I have a good background with the space experience and working with the medical community -- that maybe I have some special skills to offer to attempt to change the direction that we are going."
If he decides to run, Buckey will center his campaign on using America's strengths in technology and innovation to create a "new energy economy." The centerpiece of the plan is working towards decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
"As we look forward to having a more global economy, our edge in technology and innovation is going to be critical for us," Buckey said.
"If you look at a problem that seems to be uniquely suited for our skills, it has to be our energy problem.
That is a problem that is crying out for a technological solution and I can't think of a country that has a better track record for implementing such solutions."
According to Buckey, the country's current energy situation is a problem for both environmental and international security reasons.
He said he believes that the United States needs to stop experimenting with the planet's climate and break its close link to oil states in the Middle East.
In Buckey's opinion, reducing dependence on oil from the Middle East would help the country gain better control of the situation in Iraq.
"We need to send a strong signal that from this point forward, our oil imports are only going to go down, and that will help to get us at least a little bit of leverage over what is going on over there," he said.
His views on Iraq contrast sharply with those of Sununu, whose incumbency is considered by many to be tenuous because of his vote for the Iraq war in 2002 and his more recent vote against senatorial debate over a resolution condemning President Bush's escalation of troops.
Before deciding whether to run, Buckey is forming an exploratory committee to assess the likelihood of his success given the large volume of Democrats vying for the seat.
Committee member and Rockefeller Center coordinator Karen Liot Hill '00, who is also a Lebanon City Councilor and the political director of grassroots political organization Democracy for New Hampshire, said she thinks Buckey would be a valuable Senator because of his record of having an analytical approach to problem-solving.
"He sees that we need new leadership -- that the United States needs new leadership in the Senate," Liot Hill said.
"I think he wants to build on the positive changes that were made in November of 2006, but I think that he wants to bring a new approach. He's really interested in thinking about embracing innovative ideas."
Buckey grew up in Levittown, N.Y., and attended Cornell University, where he earned his medical degree as well as a degree in electrical engineering.
He has served as both a flight surgeon with the U.S. Air Force Reserve and a payload specialist on the space shuttle Columbia in 1998, where he studied the effects of space travel on the nervous system and the brain.
Along with serving as the medical director for hyperbaric medicine at DHMC, Buckey currently teaches at the Dartmouth Medical School and serves as an adjunct professor at Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering.
He moved to Hanover in 1995 with his wife of 25 years, Sarah Masters Buckey, and their three children.
He dipped his toe into politics in 2004 when he became the Grafton County coordinator for retired Gen. Wesley Clark's Democratic presidential campaign. This month, Buckey has helped organize a few forums on climate change, including a discussion about local energy issues held Monday night at the top of the Hopkins Center.
Buckey's opponents for Sen. Sununu's seat would include former congressional candidate Katrina Swett and Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand.
Gary Hirshberg, the CEO of Stonyfield Farm yogurt, and Nashua resident and current state Sen. David Gottesman, D-Nashua, are also considering entering the race, among others.