Millennials are growing up and what was once an up-and-coming generation in public life is now breaking into leadership roles in government. According to data compiled by the Millennial Action Project, the numbers of Millennials running for office at the federal level of government is rising exponentially. The organization tracked that there were 236 candidates running for Congress in November that were considered Millennials. “From 2018 to 2020, there was a 266% increase in Millennials running for Congress. In 2020, MAP has tracked 703 Millennial candidates for Congress throughout this cycle, compared to just 264 in 2018.”
And with more Millennials, means more Millennial Veterans. In fact, the election of 2020 brought double digit Millennial representation in Congress for the first time ever, and they are more likely to be Veterans than any other demographic in Congress, according to a report published by Veterans Campaign: “Until very recently, it was among the elder statesmen in Congress that you would find the most military veterans,” said Seth Lynn, director of the University of San Francisco MA in Public Leadership program, and founder of Veterans Campaign. “Today, it’s the opposite.”
While the total number of Veterans serving in Congress has declined over recent decades, an infusion of Veterans of the Afghan and Iraqi Wars has slowly brought more Veterans into government, in a trend we are optimistic will continue well into the future.
Here are some notable Millennial Veterans who ran in 2020:
Jake Auchincloss is a newly elected Democratic Representative for Massachusetts 4th Congressional District. Auchincloss served in the United States Marines Corps from 2010-2015, after graduating from Harvard. He ended his career as a Marine with the rank of Captain. He commanded infantry in Afghanistan and special operations in Panama, and currently serves in the Reserves as a Major, according to his House biography.
Anna Paulina Luna
Anna Paulina Luna was a Republican candidate in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. According to her campaign website, Anna was born and raised in California, and joined the Air Force as a teenager. “Anna joined the Air Force at age 19, earning the Air Force Achievement Medal. She spent a total of six years in the military, including five on active duty. She is a small business owner with a degree in Biology.” Anna ultimately lost her bid for election against incumbent Democrat, Representative Charlie Crist on November 3rd.
August Pfluger won election to Texas’ 11th Congressional District as a Republican on the November 3rd election. Representative Pfluger joined the United States Air Force Academy following his graduation from high school and went on to serve in the Air Force for nearly two decades, earning the rank of Colonel. According to his campaign bio, “…from his days as an elite F-22 Raptor fighter pilot flying combat missions against ISIS, to his service on the National Security Council as an advisor to President Donald Trump. August Pfluger believes our nation is worth defending…” Pfluger defeated Democrat candidate, Jon Hogg, to secure his first term in the House of Representatives.
Ben Bullock ran as a Republican in 2020 for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Bullock enlisted in the United States Airforce in 2009 and enrolled in Officer Training School in 2010. Bullock is currently a small business owner, as the founder of a Real Estate & Private Equity firm. He began the 2020 election campaign season running for office in Georgia’s 7th Congressional District but switched to the 14th around May. Bullock described his military career as the following: “I’m a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserves with a rank of Major. I’ve been serving for 11 years between active duty and reserves as an intelligence officer working on counterterrorism.” Bullock ultimately dropped out of the race.
Mia Mason ran as a Democrat for Maryland’s District 1 Congressional seat. Mason’s Military career includes serving in the Army, Navy, and D.C. National Guard for 20 years. According to her campaign website, “She has completed a total of 5 combat tours between Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in the Navy and Army…Overall during her career, she was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Humanitarian Medal for her efforts by aiding others.” Mason is a transgender Veteran, who was once discharged under the now repealed, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, but ultimately brought back into the Military. She ultimately lost to incumbent Republican, Representative Andrew Harris.
2020 was a watershed moment for female Veterans running for Congress. While all but one challenger lost their elections, four incumbent female Veterans were able to come out on top to secure their seats for another term. In total, seven female Veterans will be serving in the 116th Congress, a record number. Here are some of the notable winners.