For the first time since 2011, a Kenyon alum will serve in Congress. Democrat Lizzie Fletcher ’97 proved victorious in Texas’ hotly contested 7th Congressional District, which encompasses several wealthy Houston suburbs in western Harris County.
Winning 52.5 percent of the vote, Fletcher defeated Republican incumbent John Culberson, who has been in Congress for 18 years. While the Houston-area district has been solidly Republican for five decades, then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump there by 1.4 percentage points in 2016.
In September, the Washington Post’s conservative columnist George Will referred to the campaign Fletcher was running in as “a template for 2020,” remarking on her ability to toe the middle line in one of Texas’ more competitive districts.
Fletcher is a fifth-generation Houstonian. Before Kenyon she attended St. John’s School, which is located in the 7th Congressional District.
At Kenyon, Fletcher graduated with highest honors in History and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 2002, Kenyon awarded her the D. Morgan Smith Award, which recognizes outstanding service as a class agent. In 2006, she graduated from William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Va. where she served as editor-in-chief of the William and Mary Law Review.
After law school, Fletcher worked in high-stakes business litigation, first at Vinson and Elkins and then at Ahmad, Zavitsanos, Anaipakos, Alavi and Mensing (AZA), where she became the first woman to be a partner at the firm in 2015.
Before entering politics, Fletcher was active in the Houston community with volunteer and pro bono work. Fletcher was a founder of Planned Parenthood Young Leaders in 2000.
A newcomer to politics, Fletcher has said in interviews that she decided to run after Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
Prominent women’s groups such as the Feminist Majority Political Action Committee, EMILY’s List, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund endorsed Fletcher. She coupled this national support from left-leaning groups with a campaign that emphasized her local roots.
After her victory on Nov. 6, Fletcher emphasized that her job is “to represent everyone,” vowing in an interview with the Houston Chronicle to establish partnerships with the local industries — aerospace and energy — with whom Culberson had a strong rapport.
In line with this moderate view on business, Fletcher said in an interview with Houston Public Media that she believes fossil fuels will continue to drive the Houston economy, but that it is still possible to protect the environment and support the energy sector by keeping a close watch on the operators working in the industry.
Fletcher will be the first Kenyon alum to serve in the House of Representatives since Zack Space ’83 represented Ohio’s 18th Congressional District from 2007 to 2011. President Sean Decatur is rooting for Fletcher because of her “Kenyon-ness.”
“I think [Fletcher is] a great example of an accomplished Kenyon alum who is making an interesting choice of how she can have an impact on her country, her community,” he said, “so we are proud and excited and ready to cheer her on as she heads to Washington.”