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Old 10-21-2018, 08:24 AM
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Arrow Here are the 172 veterans running for Congress in November By: Leo Shane III

Here are the 172 veterans running for Congress in November
By: Leo Shane III 10-20-18

WASHINGTON — A total of 172 veterans won primaries this year and will appear on midterm ballots across the country. Their military service spans from the 1950s to today, and includes time spent in the active-duty ranks, reserves and the Coast Guard.

Will the number of veterans in Congress rise next year?
Experts say more veterans are running credible campaigns for congressional seats this year than ever before.
By: Leo Shane III

On election night, Military Times will track the status of each veteran’s race across the country and update the results here. Readers can sort the candidates by clicking on the column headers below, or search for specific names using the search bar.

The link posted below: This will bring you to the listing of those Veterans running for office this election:

Your question is: What is the possibility of these folks running for office? And is it in our best interest to have Veterans running for office?

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Old 10-21-2018, 08:29 AM
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Arrow Veterans in Congress know what it means to put country first

Veterans in Congress know what it means to put country first
By David Ignatius 7-31-18

Heading toward the midterm elections, President Trump is playing the politics of division more recklessly than ever. But there is a movement taking root in both parties this year that seeks to unite the country by building on the bedrock values of military service.

This coalescence of young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan may be the most positive trend on the political horizon. These young men and women have been through the nightmare of combat in the most challenging environments; they know what it means to serve the country, beyond flag-waving and sloganeering.

“My military experience gave me humility,” says Rep. Mike Gallagher, a first-term Republican from Wisconsin who served in Iraq as a Marine intelligence officer. “At the point of the spear, neat solutions never survive contact with the enemy.”

Gallagher is a member of a bipartisan group of young veterans called “With Honor” that hopes to have 20 of its members in the next Congress. The group has raised $10 million for races so far this year and hopes to push that total to $30 million by year-end. Donations are split, 50/50, between Republicans and Democrats.

Bipartisan cooperation is not optional. Candidates who receive support must sign the following pledge, and it speaks so directly to what ails our country these days that I’ll quote it in detail. Maybe voters could ask all candidates to make the same promise:

“1. Integrity: I will always speak the truth and prioritize the public interest above my self-interest. . . . 2. Civility. I will respect my colleagues, focus on solving problems and work to bring civility to politics. . . . 3. Courage. I will defend the rights of all Americans and have the courage to collaborate across the aisle and find common ground.”

The bipartisan group has backed some veterans who have had big victories in primaries this year, often running against party establishment candidates: Amy McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot, bested a well-funded local mayor for the Democratic nomination for a Kentucky House seat; Michael Waltz, a much-decorated former Army Green Beret who served in Afghanistan, is running for the Republican nomination for a Florida House seat despite having taken a “Never Trump” position in 2016.

With recent polls and analysis forecasting a likely Democratic takeover of the House, Democratic veterans may play a pivotal role in the next Congress. One of their leaders, Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.), who served as a Marine officer in Iraq, argues that Democrats should resist the temptation to settle scores if they win back the House.

Instead, Moulton says, they should become a true governing party, under a “big tent” that can embrace progressive candidates such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a former community organizer who won a Democratic House nomination in a liberal New York City district, and Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy helicopter pilot who won a Democratic House nomination in a more centrist New Jersey district.

To Moulton, the choice is simple: “If we want to become a narrow party — far left or moderate — we can, but we’re not going to win.” To encourage Democratic veterans to run, Moulton has formed a political action committee called “Serve America” that has raised about $2.75 million and backed 36 veterans for Congress and state and local races.

Moulton cites two charismatic female veterans in Texas who bucked the establishment to win Democratic nominations this year: M.J. Hegar, a decorated former Air Force helicopter pilot who won the nomination in a House district near Austin; and Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer who won the nomination for her district along the West Texas border.

Veterans in Congress seem less afraid than some colleagues to challenge their parties’ leadership and more willing to work across the aisle — qualities that are badly needed these days. Moulton bluntly criticized House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), arguing she is “arrogant” and out of touch. Gallagher, too, expresses a willingness to buck GOP leadership, when necessary.

What encourages me about these Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in Congress is that they understand what it means to put the nation’s interests first. Moulton shared with me a sermon he gave at Harvard last November. It’s worth reading carefully:

“I believe we can drive the divisive politics of the day out of our daily lives. But when we do, there will be many in the opposition — the ‘resistance’ as it’s now proudly called — who will want to sing out in triumph with great moral righteousness. . . . This would be a terrible mistake. It would not heal our country but reopen our wounds.”

We are overwhelmed by bad news these days, but I’ll be honest: Talking to these congressional veterans gives me hope that better times are ahead.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Old 10-21-2018, 08:34 AM
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Arrow 'Country over party:' Democrats turn to veterans to take back the House

'Country over party:' Democrats turn to veterans to take back the House
By: Dan Merica and Annie Grayer, CNN - Updated 9:23 AM ET, Sat June 30, 2018

(CNN)Every time Dan Feehan shakes hands with voters in rural Minnesota, the reality of war is only as far as his right wrist.

Feehan, a veteran who served two tours in Iraq, has worn a memorial bracelet in honor of Drew R. Pearson for nine years, a tribute to a mentor who served with Feehan in Iraq before he was killed in action in 2008. For the first-time candidate, the metallic bracelet is a constant reminder of why he is running and what he hopes to achieve.

"(I am) grounded in the understanding that every form of policy is in some way a matter of life or death," he said. "I literally carry it with me every day."

Feehan, one of dozens of military veterans the Democratic Party has turned to ahead of November's midterms, is far from alone, either.

Democrats have recruited, nurtured and funded dozens of veterans aiming to unseat Republicans in November. The strategy cuts against the common Republican attack that most of the military leans red and Democrats want a less robust military, a refrain repeatedly pushed by President Donald Trump.

The effort is reminiscent of a similar strategy employed in 2006 by then-DCCC chairman Rahm Emanuel, who recruited and backed veterans in a series of close races. But this year it comes at a time when voters, in the eyes of political operatives, are deeply skeptical of cookie-cutter politicians and searching for unique nominees who break the mold.

A key force behind the effort has been Seth Moulton, a 39-year old congressman from Massachusetts and former Marine Corps officer. Through his political action committee Serve America, Moulton has backed veterans running for House seats across the country, elevating people like Feehan, Chrissy Houlahan in Pennsylvania and Gina Ortiz Jones in Texas.

Serve America is now expanding their efforts by adding to their Moulton-backed veterans and broadening their universe by adding a number of young and first-time candidates to its list who, while not serving in the military, meet a standard of service for the Massachusetts Democrat.
"I don't think you have to be a veteran to be a great leader," Moulton said in making the announcement. "But I do think that veterans fundamentally understand what it means to put the country first in front of personal politics."

The new list includes Air Force veteran MJ Hegar in Texas and Navy veteran Josh Welle in New Jersey, along with Iowa's Abby Finkenauer, New Jersey's Andy Kim and Ohio's Aftab Pureval, all of whom have not served.

The goal for Moulton is simple: The Democratic Party is in "the worst position it's been in since the 1900s," so it's time to change things up, recruit young leaders and remake the party.

In his view, veterans are central to that strategy.

Emily Cherniack, founder and executive director of New Politics, recruits veterans from both parties to run for office. One of their programs that helps service veterans explore a run for office graduated more than 500 people from over a dozen cities last year.
"We're really about demystifying the political sphere for people and framing Congress as another call to service instead of the antithesis to the culture of sacrifice and service," Cherniack said.

Voter apathy to traditional politicians

The downturn of veterans in Congress was somewhat predictable. After World War II, the size of the American military declined, as did the number of all Americans with military experience. According to Pew Research Center, that number was only 8% in 2014.
With that came less representation.

The number of veterans in Congress has been on a steady decline ever since the 1971, when an astonishing 72% of member of Congress and 78% of Senators were veterans. The current veteran representation in Congress has hovered around 20% for almost a decade, a historic low for the deliberative body.

With more veterans of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan returning home and looking to lead their country, operatives on both sides of the aisle say there is a stable of unique veteran candidates across the country. But in the era of Trump, where uniqueness is prized, Democrats decision to turn to veterans in 2018 hinges on voters across the country, fed up with typical politicians, are looking to candidates with distinct backgrounds.

"We understand that we need to work together, that we need to work across the aisle and serve the people and boot some of these politicians out who are in Washington for all the wrong reasons," said Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and Democratic nominee in North Carolina's Ninth District.

nd most of the veterans draw a direct line between their combat experience and their ability to work with people who disagree.

"Post 9/11 veterans, I think we're really shaken by our experiences," McCready said. "And will put country before party and country before anything else."

Making a splash

The veteran candidates running for office are not running quietly. They are garnering massive attention for touting their combat experience.

Hegar, an Air Force veteran and Purple Heart recipient running in Texas's 31st District, released a video titled "Doors" last week. The video, which chronicles Hegar's life story and the doors she had to break through to get to where she is today, quickly went viral and, to date, has more than 1.9 million views.

my McGrath, a former Marine combat pilot, became the darling of the anti-Trump resistance earlier this year when she released a video titled "Told Me" about all the attempts to stop her from becoming a pilot. That video has more than 1.8 million views on YouTube.

Both videos, in the eyes of Democratic operatives working on the midterms, show voters are hungry for candidates that break the mold -- something veterans uniquely offer.

Hegar, whose central Texas race is seen as solidly Republican, explained the reason more veterans are stepping up to run for Congress -- even in difficult districts -- is the fact that "we're used to running wherever the fire is."

"And right now, it's in DC," she said. "I think we have a record high level of dysfunction in Congress. And that's not a coincidence that there's a record low number of veterans in Congress."

A number of other veterans echoed Hegar, stressing that veterans are not only running to represent their district, they are running to restore a sense of bipartisanship and doing it as a group.

"I think veterans are uniquely qualified right now to bring us together," said Houlahan, a retired Naval officer running in suburban Philadelphia. "I was never asked what party I was part of when I was in active duty."

"The veterans running this year are running together," added Ken Harbaugh, a former Navy pilot and the Democratic nominee in Ohio's Seventh Congressional District. "They are running as a team. They are running because they really do mean it when they say country over party."

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Old 10-21-2018, 08:43 AM
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Arrow Taking the Hill: Why more veterans are running for Congress

Taking the Hill: Why more veterans are running for Congress
By Ann Scott Tyson - ORANGEVALE, CALIF.

Marine Corps veteran Andrew Grant tucks a campaign flier into the hip pocket of his jeans, strides up the front walk, and rings the bell at a Spanish-style stucco home in this manicured suburb of Sacramento, Calif.

“I’m Andrew Grant, and I’m running for Congress,” the tall, athletic candidate tells retiree Don Holl, who cracks open the door and tentatively looks out. “I’m a Marine veteran,” Grant adds.

“Oh, thank you for your service,” Mr. Holl says, perking up.

“I’m running against Ami Bera,” Grant continues, referring to the Democratic incumbent in California’s contested Seventh Congressional District.

“Good!” says Holl, now smiling broadly. “You’ve got my vote!”

Across the United States, a growing number of veterans of recent wars – both Democratic and Republican, men and women – are volunteering to serve again by entering congressional races. The trend is encouraging to advocates and experts who see these races as the front line of a promising political initiative: enlisting new veterans to help bridge partisan divisions and bolster public confidence in Congress.

“We’ve seen a pretty dramatic increase in the number of veterans who are competitive” in the 2018 midterm elections compared with 2016, says Seth Lynn, executive director of Veterans Campaign, a Washington-based nonprofit that educates veterans about running for office.

Nearly 400 veterans – including almost 200 who served after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – are currently running for Congress, according to a count maintained by With Honor, a “cross-partisan” super political action committee. With Honor is unusual because it endorses and funds veteran candidates from both parties who pledge to act with integrity and collaborate across the aisle.

People with military experience held the majority of US congressional seats for most of the latter half of the 20th century, and in 1969 they made up three-quarters of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Since then, however, the ranks of veterans in Congress have dwindled to about 20 percent today. Meanwhile, partisanship – measured by party conformity on roll call votes and an unwillingness to sponsor bipartisan legislation – has risen sharply. Public trust has eroded in Congress, which Gallup polls rank the least trustworthy among major American institutions.

Candidates who’ve served in the military – the most trusted American institution, according to Gallup – represent an untapped pool of mission-driven leaders whose teamwork skills could help build bridges and get things done in Congress, advocates say.

Research indicates that veterans, even from deep red and blue House districts, are more likely than nonveterans to cosponsor bipartisan legislation, according to a scoring index maintained by The Lugar Center, a Washington-based nonprofit. Younger veterans, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, are also more bipartisan in their voting than nonveterans, according to Isaiah Wilson, a retired Army colonel, West Point professor, and incoming senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

No one is suggesting that veterans alone can end the polarization in Congress or that the military is needed to rescue civilian society. Congress has in its ranks some highly partisan veterans. Still, veterans are one pool of capable candidates worth drawing upon, experts say.

“Things aren’t working, and there needs to be a change in attitude and philosophy and outlook in people serving in Congress,” says former Defense Secretary and CIA Director Robert Gates, who served eight US presidents from both parties. “Polarization has led to paralysis.”

“People who have served in the military post-9/11 have this sense of mission and the willingness to reach across the aisle,” adds Mr. Gates, a With Honor political adviser. “In putting on the uniform, they have undertaken a mission that forces them to work together with anybody and everybody. They learn how important teamwork is and [the value of] tolerating and embracing people with a different point of view.”

Grant and other candidates with military backgrounds are pitching themselves to voters as patriots and problem-solvers. Most have significant experience outside the military in business, law, medicine, government, and other professions. Many are running for office for the first time, motivated by concerns they share as ordinary citizens.

“I value my country, and my family, and my faith more than I value my party,” says Grant in a crisp new campaign office in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova. “The Congress isn’t operating that way. It’s party front and center now.”

Grant, a graduate of the US Naval Academy and former Marine intelligence officer, has broad overseas experience and expertise in weapons of mass destruction and North Korea. A decade ago, he returned to his home state of California, working as an executive in the grocery business and in international trade. What he found, especially what he perceived as overreach by California’s government, motivated him to run as a Republican in this Democratic-leaning district. Grant’s GOP opponent in the race, Yona Barash, is a surgeon who served in the Israel Defense Forces.

“My wife said, ‘If you don’t decide to try to serve again, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life,’ ” Grant tells a living room full of potential supporters in Orangevale. “I won’t regret it if they don’t choose me, but I would if I didn’t try.”

Grant began his campaign by running in his district – literally. He jogged through each neighborhood with a GoPro action camera to film short clips explaining his goals. Now he teams up with campaign manager Max Ramsey, a veteran who was wounded in Iraq, knocking on doors in advance of the June 5 primary.

Ever the intelligence officer, Grant scans for clues about the voters. “This one has an NRA [National Rifle Association] bumper sticker,” he tells Mr. Ramsey. Grant stresses he is not an NRA member and won’t take funds from the organization. “I’m not a big gun guy,” he says. Grant, a good listener, encourages voters to share more.

“I wouldn’t do this without putting rubber on the road; it would be disingenuous,” he says as he heads up another driveway in the afternoon sun.

A middle-aged man in a tan cap opens the door and likes what he hears. “We need somebody strong to run,” the man tells Grant, asking about his website. “Keep going door to door,” he advises. “In Orangevale,
that helps!”

The shoe-leather campaigning may be paying off. Over two days with Grant on the campaign trail, from doorsteps to coffee shops and chamber of commerce events, all but one of the scores of voters interviewed – Democratic as well as Republican – reacted enthusiastically to his military service.

“A candidate who’s served, that’s highly sought after,” says Jeff Lachance, an employment agency manager in nearby Roseville, after talking with Grant at a local business expo. “It could help them keep cool in a crisis, make clear decisions, and look analytically at the issues at hand.”

Leading a 24-person combat engineer platoon in Iraq as US troop deaths surged in 2006, 2nd Lt. Dan Feehan was handed the task of clearing roadside bombs. The prevailing tactic – driving the routes as fast as possible – wasn’t working. To accomplish the mission, he had to convince his teammates to slow down and sometimes walk alongside the route to spot bombs, wires, and triggers.

“It was hard because it was counterintuitive,” Feehan recalls. “But by building trust with noncommissioned officers, I was able to do it. We were able to find more roadside bombs.”

Now Feehan is running for Congress from southern Minnesota and is promising to bring the same team-building skills to Washington. “You can apply that same approach: envisioning a different way and showing it can work,” he says. “It comes with a sense of respect and empathy for everyone involved. I don’t see that happening [now] in Congress, but I know it works because it worked for us in the middle of a war.”

Feehan was a freshman walking to class at Georgetown University in Washington on 9/11 when terrorists crashed American Flight 77 into the Pentagon. The event defined his call to service. He joined ROTC, majored in international politics, and was commissioned as an Army officer in 2005. He became an engineer in hopes of helping rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan.

Deployed to Iraq with an armor battalion, his platoon faced heavy fighting, rushing to the aid of another unit during an ambush north of Baghdad in October 2006. Feehan received a Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal for valor. After leaving active duty in 2009, he taught school for two years, earned a public policy master’s degree at Harvard University, and served as acting assistant secretary of Defense for readiness.

As a Pentagon official, Feehan had “an intimate awareness of how consequential policy decisions are on the ground” but felt that many in Congress did not, so he decided to run for the House. In April, he won the Democratic party endorsement in his race for Minnesota’s open First Congressional District – a mostly rural district along the Iowa border that is considered a toss-up. On the GOP side, he’ll face either former congressional candidate Jim Hagedorn or state Sen. Carla Nelson in November.

To advocates of military service, veteran candidates embody many qualities needed in Washington today. “In the military, the solutions we come up with are team solutions,” says Peter Chiarelli, a retired four-star general who served as Army vice chief of staff and is a senior veteran adviser to With Honor. He believes veterans are better suited “to listen to other points of view, and realize that no one has all the answers.”

Peter Feaver, a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University and an expert on civil-military relations, says exposure to the military’s diverse meritocracy is a major asset for lawmakers and offers intriguing, if untested, possibilities for promoting bipartisan collaboration.

“Military service members have had to rub shoulders with a broader segment of Americans,” Dr. Feaver says.

They also bring depth of knowledge about defense, national security, and other issues. With defense spending accounting for about half of the yearly discretionary federal budget, lawmakers who are veterans “probably have a better idea of how to make the Pentagon efficient and how to administer some of these big programs,” says Gates, the former Defense secretary.

For this and other reasons, Emily’s List, which supports pro-abortion-rights Democratic women candidates, is backing several female veterans running for Congress in 2018. “[They] understand the importance of strengthening our national security, defending the [Department of Veterans Affairs], and fighting back against sexual assault in the military,” says Alexandra De Luca of Emily’s List.

Contrary to popular perceptions, veterans in civilian leadership are less likely than nonveterans to use the military in overseas disputes, according to historical research by Feaver and others spanning 200 years. “Veterans are more likely to ask a lot of questions and want to go slowly before committing troops to a conflict,” says Mr. Lynn, a Marine Corps Reserve officer. “The assumption of hawkishness is not borne out by reality.”

Indeed, Mr. Chiarelli, who commanded the 1st Cavalry Division and overall military operations during two tours in Iraq, believes that if more veterans had been in Congress, there would have been greater scrutiny of committing troops to Iraq and clarifying what the military’s role should be.

Gates agrees. “If Congress had asserted itself, we would not be in 17-year wars,” he says.


In between campaign events, knocking on doors, and driving his three children to school, piano lessons, and soccer practices, Grant must try to raise money – lots of it.

Grant’s campaign finances are so far trailing those of the incumbent in a district that saw one of the costliest House races in California in 2016. “It is the one limiting factor in people deciding to run. They don’t like asking people for money,” Grant says.

In Minnesota, Feehan is in a stronger financial position. He outraised all his Democratic primary contenders and currently has more cash on hand than both of his Republican opponents.

But Feehan faces another problem common among veteran candidates: Years of absence from their home states during their military service has limited their ties with voters and local political networks.

“For a lot of folks who haven’t been out of the military very long, it’s harder to connect with their constituents,” says Lynn of Veterans Campaign. “Fewer people today have much knowledge or direct experience with the military, so it’s harder to explain what you’ve been doing the last few years.”

Moreover, Lynn discovered many veterans who “would make fantastic political leaders but had no idea how to run for office,” in part because of legal restrictions on partisan activity by service members.

These challenges – coupled with their being chosen more often to run in long-shot races – explain why veteran candidates do not have an overall advantage over nonveterans in winning elections, research shows.

“They have great value as an electoral asset, but not on election day,” says Jeremy Teigen, a political scientist at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah and author of “Why Veterans Run.” “They have name recognition, an advantage in fundraising, and military experience resonates with voters. The election day test is a pretty high bar.”

The cost of running is particularly onerous for younger veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“So many of the candidates face long odds, even though they are great candidates, because of the obscene rise in the cost of elections,” says Rye Barcott, co-founder and chief executive officer of With Honor and an Iraq War veteran. Over the past 20 years, the average cost of a congressional race has more than quadrupled, to between $2 million and $4 million, he says.

Mr. Barcott launched With Honor to reduce barriers to entry for “next-generation” veterans in this year’s House races. With Honor will endorse some 30 to 35 candidates, including a balance of Democrats and Republicans. Of those, it will support about 10 to 15 campaigns with independent expenditures of $500,000 to $1.2 million, with most of that money used for advertising. The plan is to expand its support to more than 100 state and local races by 2020.

All candidates endorsed by With Honor must pledge to join a veterans’ caucus, meet regularly with members of the opposing party, and support and cosponsor bipartisan legislation. The goal by 2030 is to build a coalition of Democratic and Republican veterans in the House that can empower members to cross party lines – and fix what Barcott calls “our tribal polarization.”


Wearing a pinstripe suit and black cowboy boots imprinted with a gold Texas seal, state Sen. Van Taylor leans back in a leather swivel chair in his Plano, Texas, conference room with the easy confidence of a man who knows where he is going. Barring some unexpected turn of events, the decorated US Marine is well positioned to win the open House seat in Texas’ Third Congressional District, a Republican stronghold in a wealthy and growing suburb of Dallas.

Senator Taylor is proud to be one of the most conservative members of the Texas Legislature, where he’s served for eight years. Endorsed by With Honor, the GOP candidate has pledged to support bipartisan legislation, to regularly meet with Democrats, and to join a caucus of veterans from both parties if he goes to Washington.

Taylor and other veteran candidates understand that, if elected, they will face strong pressure in Congress to toe the party line. But several who, like Taylor, have legislative experience either at the state level or as former congressional staff have concrete ideas for how to build bridges across the aisle.

Bipartisanship, they stress, is not centrism. It doesn’t require abandoning one’s principles. Instead, it means promoting civil discourse and a free, open, and fair airing of ideas to bring about compromise. Bipartisanship is “finding a common-sense solution that everyone can agree on. To be successful, you have to work hard, listen to lots of people, treat them with respect, be innovative with your solution,” Taylor says. “More than anything, it requires listening.”

Running in New Mexico’s solidly Democratic First Congressional District, Damon Martinez, an Army Reserve officer and judge advocate, is a first-time candidate who felt compelled to enter politics in part to “change the atmosphere” in Congress. “We are the standard-bearer for the rest of the world on people having a voice in the government, and people are scratching their heads about what is going on in America,” says the Democrat.

Mr. Martinez vows that, if elected, he will push for more open debates, drawing upon his experience as a former US House of Representatives legislative director. His mentors in Congress taught him how lawmakers used to “break bread together, making it harder for them to punch below the belt or get personal and vindictive,” he says.

Across the country in New Hampshire, lawyer, nurse, and Navy Reserve officer Lynne Blankenbeker is running as a Republican in Democratic-leaning District 2. A former member of the New Hampshire House, she stood up to party pressure to cast a roll call vote she disagreed with and used parliamentary maneuvers to prevent divisive, last-minute amendments by her own party from sabotaging bipartisan legislation.

Ms. Blankenbeker says she would join a veterans caucus to advance bipartisan bills on defense, veterans, and national security issues. “Military people tend to do well together,” says Blankenbeker, one of 37 women veterans running this year. “If you are a Democrat and an aviator, and I am a Republican and Naval nurse, we need to bring that uniqueness together. A strong veterans caucus could be very influential and set the example.”


Still, in the end, no one expects any single category of candidate – military or otherwise – to solve the nation’s partisan woes. Some veterans, after all, are fiercely ideological and partisan. Many nonveterans are effective bridge-builders. And in this era of divided politics, pressure is intense from not only parties but many voters to place political point-scoring above compromise.

Experts caution against any misplaced belief that people with military backgrounds are inherently superior at governing. Duke University’s Feaver says overvaluing military experience could feed “a myth that we need the military to rescue civilian society ... that the military is so wonderful, so ideal, those who haven’t served represent lesser forms of the American experience.” Mr. Wilson of Yale warns against “ascribing sainthood to veterans.”

Yet boosters of candidates with military backgrounds aren’t advocating for a praetorian political class. They simply believe people who have served their country often see a larger mission and are less inclined to reject ideas because of a party label.

As Lynn of Veterans Campaign puts it: “Those of us who have served overseas know the people across the aisle are not the enemy.”

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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