Sanders Has Scientific Reason To Run

Published Tuesday 09 of February, 2010

Ronald Hawkins, Reporter-Times of Martinsville

Purdue University biology professor David Sanders had previously lost two bids to unseat U.S. Rep. David Buyer, R-4, but believed this year it would be different, he said.

Sanders, a Democrat, filed to run before Buyer announced he wouldn’t seek another term. The incumbent cited his wife’s health problems. Buyer’s announcement also came on the heels of a request by the Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics that the IRS and the Office of Congressional Ethics look at Buyer’s Frontier Foundation, a scholarship fund the congressman established.

Sanders lost to Buyer in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

“I was convinced I was going to win this time because of the questions of the conduct of the representative of the 4th district,” Sanders said. “It’s important to have the people’s best interests in mind rather than corporate donors.”

Buyer’s foundation had collected more than $800,000, but had not awarded any scholarships. One contribution to the fund was $200,000 from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Buyer helped kill a three-year ban on advertising new drugs that drug manufacturers and broadcasters opposed.

Regarding the reasons given by Buyer for not seeking another term, Sanders said he understands what it is like to see a spouse in the midst of a major medical crisis.

“I wish him success in future endeavors,” Sanders said. “My heart goes out to him.

“I’m a widower. My wife died four years ago from a brain tumor. I wish him and his family well.”

Sanders said he’d leave it others to decide whether that was the sole reason the incumbent decided not to seek another term.

As for his own candidacy, Sanders said, he brings special qualifications.

“Most issues have a scientific basis — climate change, pandemics, health care. I’m someone who speaks the language of the science and about the limits of science.”

In addition to holding a doctorate in chemistry, Sanders’ scientific credentials include being a National Science Foundation career award winner and an American Cancer Society research scholar. His specialty is viruses.

Sanders isn’t an ivory tower scientist, however, who can’t communicate with the public, he said. He teaches at Purdue, has spoken at multiple public forums on topics such as swine flu, as an expert on television news programs and at places as varied as high schools, nursing homes and Rotary Club gatherings, he said.

“I believe we need to be focusing on new transportation technology, new medical, new energy technologies,” Sanders said. “We already have the infrastructure in Indiana”

Indiana’s manufacturing heritage is a plus, he said, “because we have a trained workforce that is ready for new technology. Indiana has to be ready for new opportunities.”

The 4th District has a wealth of higher education centers including Purdue, Wabash College and Ivy Tech campuses that can play a part in that, he said. The Purdue Research Park is an example of creating partnerships that create jobs.

“The federal government has a role to play,” Sanders said. “Clearly, there’s going to be continued interest in health care and medicine.”

Sanders said some Americans have been frustrated in the year since President Obama took office.

“People are very, very frustrated by the lack of response from Washington and unethical behavior,” Sanders said. “We need to be willing to listen, and be straight forward and honest with the voters.

“People are authentically upset with their representation and what has been happening. …People had expectations and not all of them have been fulfilled. The reason is the problems are more complex than people are giving credit to. …The administration has made advancement on several measures, but not all of them.”

On other issues, Sanders said:

  • He has been a strong advocate for veterans. It is important that benefits promised to veterans be delivered. Gabe Sanders, his late father, served in World War II in the Pacific Theater and frequently talked about his service.
  • He believes it is important to be available to the public at all times, not just during election years. During his previous campaigns he spent considerable time in Morgan County and even went door-to-door in Martinsville.”

About David Sanders

  • Residence West Lafayette
  • Profession Biology professor at Purdue University
  • Education Undergraduate bachelor’s degree in molecular bio-physics and bio-chemistry from Yale University. Doctorate from University of California-Berkeley in chemistry
  • Family Three sons
  • Key issues Dealing with issues such climate change, pandemics, health care, all of which have a scientific basis. Ethical behavior of office holders. Maintaining communication with the voters at all times.