Veterans from across the branches of the US military are running for Congress on both sides of the aisle in what we hope will be a big year for getting Veterans to government. This piece will continue our coverage of Veteran candidates who will be on the ballots this year, focusing on those who have served in one of the military’s most elite units!
Below are five candidates who have now clinched primary races in their respective districts and will compete in November to represent their states in the House of Representatives. All five are Republicans and retired members of the Navy SEALs.
Voters in Florida’s 7th Congressional District will decide the fate of Brady Duke’s candidacy during that state’s August 23rd primary elections. Beyond being a father and minister, Duke is a retired Navy SEAL. According to his campaign website, “In 2007 he completed his training and shortly after met his wife, Julie. Operating as a sniper and breacher, Duke deployed to Afghanistan and earned multiple awards including two Navy Commendation medals, one with valor.” After retiring from the military, Duke first continued to train SEALs as a civilian instructor, then trained SWAT teams in Close Quarters Combat. Today he runs his own ministry and continues to train local law enforcement.
Derrick Van Orden
Retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden says he realized the consequences of weak, ineffectual leadership in Washington, DC while planning Special Operations contingency operations for the European Continent during the Obama Administration. This failed leadership, his campaign contends, led to the terrorist attacks on the US embassy in Benghazi. In total, Van Orden served in the military for 26 years. “He retired as a Navy SEAL Senior Chief with 5 combat deployments and several others to troubled areas in the world,” his campaign notes. His first combat deployment was to Bosnia Herzegovina, and eventually he would deploy also to Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to several other locations. Post retirement, Van Orden served as a consultant. He even has movie credits, including the film Act of Valor, in addition to publishing a book, A Book of Man: A Navy SEAL’s Guide to the Lost Art of Manhood. Van Orden won the Republican primary for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District as an uncontested candidate on August 9th.
On August 2nd, Eli Crane secured the primary nomination as the Republican for Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District in the November election. Crane served in the military for 13 years and was part of SEAL Team 3. He was part of 5 combat deployments, three of which to the Middle East. He and his wife started the company Bottle Breacher which sells hand crafted .50 caliber bottle openers. His products are “Made in the USA,” and his company employs Veterans and contributes to Veteran causes nationwide. He is running on a platform of being “a faith-oriented, family man and is pro-life, pro-second amendment, and unafraid to take a stand against cancel culture and the radical left.”
Morgan Luttrell won the Republican primary to compete for Texas’ 8th Congressional District on March 1st. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Sam Houston State University, Luttrell pursued a career in the Navy and became a SEAL. “From Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL training (BUD/S) to Officer Candidate School, Morgan excelled as top grad—no matter the challenge. He served multiple combat deployments and led his troops as a Naval Special Warfare Officer,” says his campaign. While deployed a deadly helicopter crash left Luttrell with debilitating injuries, such as a broken back and traumatic brain injury. But the crash and his recovery also inspired the next journey in his life of service. “After achieving an advanced degree in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas, Morgan created an innovative health and wellness platform helping veterans heal from their physical and psychological injuries.” Luttrell has also served as a special advisor to the Department of Energy under the Trump Administration and currently runs a small business, teaches law enforcement leadership, and lectures as an adjust professor at Sam Houston State University.
This former SEAL has had a large presence in American politics and is running as a Republican for Montana’s First Congressional District. Most recently, Zinke served as Secretary of the Interior under the Trump Administration from 2017-2019. He has also been elected to two terms as a Montana State Senator and was elected twice to the House of Representatives, before leaving to serve as Interior Secretary. Zinke’s military career spanned 23 years, starting in 1985. “He was first assigned to SEAL Team ONE then was later selected to SEAL Team SIX where he was a Team Leader, Ground Force Commander, Task Force Commander and Current Operations Officer in support of National Command Authority missions,” his campaign says. He also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom where he led a force of over 3,500 Special Operations personnel and was awarded two Bronze Stars for his service in 2006. Zinke won his primary in June.