The vision of American Veterans Honor Fund is “to become the preeminent proponent of Veteran politicians in the nation. We will strive to prepare dedicated Veterans from all military branches to continue their careers of service as elected officials at all levels of state and local government.” Veterans have led a life of service to others, and perhaps most importantly, swore to uphold the founding principles of our nation through our sacred Constitution. The ethic of service and non-partisan commitment to protecting our Republic make ideal candidates for public office.
This year was a noteworthy election due to the sheer number of Veteran candidates running for the House of Representatives. According to Military.com, “There are 163 party nominees, including challengers and incumbents, running for House seats — the most since 2012, according to information compiled by the University of San Francisco and the Veterans Campaign.” In total, all 435 seats in the House were up for re-election this year. While this election did not implicate as many Senate seats, there were 35 seats up for grabs, 9 of which were held by Vets. Each chamber of Congress had many notable races.
Considering the number of seats up for grabs, Veteran candidates on both sides of the aisle found success in Election 2020. In total, there were 70 Veterans who either maintained their seats in this election or were newly elected by the public. In total, there were 14 new Vets elected, according to Military.com.
Perhaps the most noteworthy edition to the House is Dr. Ronny Jackson. The retired Navy Rear Admiral has served as a physician for both former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump. He made waves this year when he publicly cast doubt on the mental fitness of Joe Biden to perform as President. Another notable election is the return of Darrell Issa. The Republican Rep stepped down from his California seat in the 49th District in 2018. The former Army Captain beat Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in California’s 50th District to regain his spot in government. Republican Rep Dan Crenshaw of Texas won reelection. The former Navy Seal has been a popular & polarizing figure for his outspokenness. In Hawaii, Representative and Vet Tulsi Gabbard is retiring from her House seat after an unsuccessful Presidential bid. In her place will be Democrat Kai Kahele, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Hawaii Air National Guard.
Gabbard’s seat is not the only one to flip from Vet to Vet. In one of the Senate’s most contentious races, Martha McSally’s Arizona Senate seat has been won by Mark Kelly. McSally, a Republican, is a decorated Air Force Veteran and the first woman to fly a fighter jet into combat. Mark Kelly, a Democrat, is a Veteran of the Navy and also a former NASA astronaut. There were several Republican Veterans up for re-election in the Senate, and each of their seats were highly coveted. The first was that of Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s, who was able to stave off the challenge from Democrat challenger, Amy McGrath. Another was that of Senator Joni Ernst in Iowa. Enrst who had served in both the Army Reserve and Iowa National Guard held onto her seat, earning 51% of the vote. The race for incumbent Lindsey Graham’s Senate seat saw the most money ever raised for a Senate seat in history by his Democrat challenger, Jamie Harrison. Graham won.These were some of the most publicized races featuring Veterans in this year’s elections. While there were well over 100 Veterans who ran this year, one thing that has not drastically changed is the balance of Vets serving in office. According to Military.com, “With some 20% of vets who came to Congress in 2018 not seeking reelection, USF and the Veterans Campaign predict it’s unlikely that the proportion of vets in the House will increase with this election.” However, one promising metric is that the Vets who are running for office are on average young. With an increase in Vets who served our country post 9/11 increasingly running for office, the objective of getting a larger proportion of Vets into office is an attainable goal moving forward.
November 3rd has come and gone. After a frenzied campaign season where candidates for all levels of government have presented their platforms, made their promises, and Americans have finally cast their ballots. Now that a new government has been elected, the age-old question remains: will the candidates live up to their campaign promises? Read more here.