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Voters in Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania headed to their respective states’ polls this week in the latest round of primaries for the 2018 midterm elections. While all eyes are undoubtedly on the outcomes in Pennsylvania — the Pennsylvania Supreme Court-imposed new congressional map led to 21 contested congressional primaries — those watching for how the military veterans running for political office storyline turns out in 2018 have plenty to look at, too.
Forty-seven known veterans were candidates across the four states, three of whom were women. Twenty-four ran as Republicans, 21 as Democrats, and two as Libertarians. Thirteen of these will be headed to November’s election contest. All three women, all Democrats, won their party’s nomination. Overall, nine of the successful veteran candidates are Democrats, six of whom are running in Pennsylvania. No veterans in Oregon won their contest. Here’s a quick state-by-state breakdown:
Three veterans were making a gubernatorial run: Libertarian Bev “Angel” Boeck (US Marine Corps), and Republicans Harley Brown (US Army Corps of Engineers) and Dalton Ben Cannady (US Army). Kristin Collum (US Army) beat fellow veteran Jim Fabe (US Army) in the Democratic contest for lieutenant governor, but Republican Marv Hagedorn (US Navy) was unsuccessful in his bid. Incumbent Secretary of State Lawrence Denney (US Army) ran unopposed.
On the congressional side of things, three veterans running to represent District 1 were also unsuccessful: Democratic candidate and Post-9/11 veteran Michael Smith (US Marine Corps and US Army), and Republican candidates and also Post-9/11 veterans Alex Gallegos (US Army) and Nick Henderson (US Army).
Post-9/11 veteran Tyler Davis (US Marine Corps) and pre-9/11 veteran Bob Krist (US Air Force) both hoped to win the Democratic Party nomination for governor, with Krist winning it. Fellow Democrat Spencer Danny (US Air Force) was also successful in his contest for Secretary of State.
Two Democratic veterans and one Republican veteran entered the Nebraska US Senate race, and all three lost. Lawrence “Larry” Marvin (US Air Force) and Frank Svoboda (US Army), and Jack Heidel (US Navy) all served prior to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. On the House side, current Republican incumbent in District 2 Don Bacon (US Air Force), who served after 9/11, will defend his seat in November.
In Oregon, eight veterans were official candidates heading into the state’s primary election. Keenan Bohach (US Army), Bruce Cuff (US Army), and Greg Woolridge (US Navy), all Republicans, lost their gubernatorial bids. Veterans running to represent their congressional district were also unsuccessful. Three veterans ran in District 2: Democrats James Crary (US Army) and Raz Mason (US Navy), and Republican Paul Romero Jr. (US Navy). Charles Rand Barnett (US Navy) ran in District 3, and Post-9/11 veteran Preston Miller (US Army) ran in District 1.
Twenty-one veterans were among the 84 candidates that threw their hat into the 2018 midterm election ring in Pennsylvania, which saw the highest amount of congressional primaries — also 21 — since 1984 due to the newly-imposed congressional map. Paul Mango (US Army) made a strong showing as a gubernatorial candidate in the Republican Primary, but ultimately lost out to Scott Wagner.
Incumbent Democratic Lt. Gov. Michael Stack (US Army National Guard) held onto his nomination. Two other incumbents — the recently elected Conor Lamb (US Marine Corps) of District 18 and Scott Perry (Army National Guard) of District 10, also held on to win. Perry was one of only two Republican veterans out of ten running in Pennsylvania to win on Tuesday.
Out of ten veterans running in the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary, six were ultimately successful. This includes two female veterans — Rachel Reddick (US Navy) in District 1 and Christina Houlahan (US Air Force) in District 6. George Scott (US Army) in District 10 and Ron DiNicola (US Marine Corps) in District 16 were also successful.
Four Republican veterans ran in District 13, making it an inter-service “contest” between the Coast Guard, the Marine Corps, and the Army. All four lost their nomination bid. In District 14, Post-9/11 veterans Guy Reschenthaler (US Navy) and Rick Saccone (US Air Force) went head-to-head. Reschenthaler, a current state senator, gained 55.4% of the vote compared to Saccone’s 44.6%, and so will head into the November election against (non-veteran) Democratic Party candidate Bibiana Boerio.
The fact that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision resulted in a more favorable electoral landscape for Democrats undoubtedly impacted both the number of veterans overall running as Democrats and the number of veteran primary victories in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, it is striking how many veterans were running for office, especially from the most recent Post-9/11 cohort of veterans. Less unusual is the fact that all woman veterans running this time were running as Democrats. Increasingly over the past few years, female veterans have run for office in high percentage as Democrats, though not exclusively so.
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