From Soldiers To Aspiring Politicians: More Iraq Vets Run For Congress
June 10, 2008
In the past, Veterans of previous conflicts that the United States has been involved in, have opted to try their hands at politics, once their military duties are completed. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have began, several veterans of the current conflicts have tried chosen to enter politics as well. This year, twice as many veterans of the war in Iraq are running for seats in Congress, than in 2006. Currently there are more Republican Iraq Veteran candidates, than there are Democrats.
Some of those Iraq Veteran candidates are facing primaries and some are even considered longshots. Depending on the outcome in November, it’s very possible that the number of Combat Veterans who serve in Congress, could very well increase. According to reports, since 2000, the number of Combat Veterans serving in Congress has been decreasing. There’s no way to know if a particular candidates having served in Iraq will make citizens more likely to vote for them come November, or not. According to one political editor, Nathan Gonzales, currently the economy has surpassed the Iraq war as an issue of top concern with many voters.
“Veteran candidates are going to have to prove they can speak on a wide variety of issues including the economy,” he said. “They’re going to have to run a real campaign, raise a whole lot of money and make the case why the incumbent should be fired.”
Currently there are at least 10 Democratic candidates and 20 Republican candidates who are Veterans of the war in Iraq, running for seats in the House of Representatives. There are none running for seats in the Senate. There are several notable aces in several states:
— Minneapolis suburbs: Democrat Ashwin Madia, a Marine, will take on GOP state Rep. Erik Paulsen, a former aide to retiring Rep. Jim Ramstad. Madia, a lawyer, worked with Iraqi officials to develop the country’s justice system.
— Northeastern Ohio: Longtime GOP congressman Ralph Regula is retiring from a seat held by his party since 1950. Democratic state Sen. John Boccieri, who flew C-130 cargo planes in Iraq for the Air Force, will face state Sen. Kirk Schuring.
— Buffalo, N.Y.: Republican Tom Reynolds is retiring. Former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, who wrote a memoir about facing battle in Fallujah, is in the race on the GOP side. Former Army Capt. Jon Powers is among the Democrats running.
— San Diego area: Three of the seven candidates seeking the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter have Iraq combat experience. Hunter’s Marine reservist son, Duncan D. Hunter, and retired Army Col. Rick Powell are among the Republicans. Former Navy SEAL Cmdr. Mike Lumpkin is among the Democrats. The primary is June 3.
— Maine: Democratic Rep. Tom Allen gave up his seat for a Senate bid. Democrat Adam Cote could come up against Navy Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Summers, a Republican whose wife campaigned for him while he was still deployed in Baghdad, after a June 10 primary.
Currently, in Congress, there are 35 combat Veterans who serve, which is down from 41 in 2001. The number of Veterans serving in Congress is declining, since it’s peak in 1977. At that time, more than 3/4 of Congress had served in the Military. Currently, only 24% of Congress has ever served.
In 2006, about a dozens Veterans of the Iraq war ran for Congress, with only Democrat Patrick Murphy successful. He faces a challenge this year from another Veteran, Republican Tom Manion, whose son was killed by sniper fire in Iraq last year.
It should be interesting to see the outcomes of these races. I think it’s important to Military and Veteran causes that we do have a certain percentage of Combat Veterans serving in Congressional sats. They know first hand the issues that our Troops and Veterans face … they’ve been there. I also feel, that because of the dicipline instilled upon our Soldiers that they’re very capable of making sound decisions on any issue that they’re faced with, even the issue of economics. I wish each of them luck in the upcoming elections. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on these elections and Iraq War Veterans running for Congressional seats.