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Science group eyes Dem candidates in Washington, Tennessee

Science group eyes Dem candidates in Washington, Tennessee

A group focused on recruiting and training scientists to run for office is eyeing two more key House and Senate races as it plans to ramp up involvement in the 2018 midterms.

314 Action, named after the first three digits of pi, is closely watching the race for Rep. Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertRep. Kim Schrier defends Washington House seat from GOP challenger Washington Rep. Kim Schrier wins primary Mail ballot surge places Postal Service under spotlight MORE’s (R-Wash.) open seat and the Tennessee Senate race, which has garnered some national attention. But the group has yet to make endorsements in either race.

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), who has a bachelor’s degree in physics, is running for the open seat in Tennessee. He’s seen as a top recruit for Democrats in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in nearly 30 years.

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In the race to fill Reichert’s seat, the group is closely watching pediatrician Kim Schrier (D), who’s running in a crowded primary for a seat in a district that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader Clinton says it meant 'great deal' to hold inauguration weeks after riot MORE carried by 3 points in 2016.

Schrier is the leading fundraiser in the 8-person Democratic primary. She has the backing of EMILY’s List, which aims to elect women who support abortion rights to office.

314 Action founder Shaughnessy Naughton told The Hill that there’s a “greater realization among scientists that it’s not just somebody else’s problem to deal with those wacky, anti-science politicians.”

The group has already endorsed seven Democratic incumbents with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering or math as well as seven House candidates and one Senate candidate. Naughton said she expects the group to play a major role in boosting Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenHouse Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Lawmakers introduce legislation to boost cybersecurity of local governments, small businesses MORE (D-Nev.) in her Senate run.

314 Action is also expanding its “Under the Scope” program which targets “anti-science” GOP incumbents. The group said that list will include Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) and Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaREAD: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Gingrich: Trump should attend Biden inauguration Rep.-elect Issa says Trump should attend Biden inauguration MORE (R-Calif.). Clinton won Issa’s district and the state of Nevada, and both Republicans are top Democratic targets in 2018.

Naughton said she’s seen 314 Action’s membership balloon from 4,000 to 400,000 this year. And she estimated that 1,400 scientists have gone through the group’s training.

“Next year we will see more scientists running than we’ve ever seen before in our country’s history,” Naughton said.