November 03, 2010, 11:15 AM — Tuesday was a tough day for a handful of U.S. candidates with technology backgrounds, with two former tech CEOs and the current chairman of a House of Representatives subcommittee focused on Internet policy beaten during the election.
Representative Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat and chairman of House Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications, technology, and the Internet, was among the wave of Democrats losing during Tuesday's elections. Boucher, who served for 28 years in the House, was defeated by Republican Morgan Griffith, the majority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates, in a campaign largely focused on coal mining regulations and the economy.
California bucked the national trend toward electing Republicans, however, with incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer defeating Republican Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. And former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, also a Republican, lost the governor's race to Democrat Jerry Brown, California's current attorney general. Brown also served as California's governor from 1975 to 1983.
Tech issues were not a major part of the debate in the California senate and governor's races, although Fiorina and Whitman both stressed their executive experience during the campaign.
Democratic lawmakers representing Silicon Valley in California were reelected. Easily winning their races were Democratic Representatives Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, and Mike Honda.
Democrats didn't fare so well in other parts of the country. As of Wednesday morning, Republicans had gained about 60 seats in the House, taking majority control from Democrats. One victim was Boucher, one of the most tech-focused members of Congress.
In recent years, Boucher has pushed unsuccessfully for net neutrality legislation prohibiting broadband providers from selectively blocking Web traffic.
Democratic defeats in the House mean net neutrality legislation is even more unlikely to pass, several tech policy experts said, even though Democrats were not able to pass a bill with majorities in both chambers of Congress, at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and a president in the White House during the past two years.
Boucher was focused on several other tech issues, as well. In May, he and Republican Representative Cliff Stearns released a privacy draft that would require companies that collect personal information from customers to disclose how they collect and share that information.
Boucher has long pushed for reform of the FCC's Universal Service Fund, which largely subsidizes traditional telephone and mobile service in rural areas. In recent years, he called for USF to be redirected to broadband service, and the FCC's national broadband plan, released in March, advocated a similar approach.