Discussion: (0 comments)
There are no comments available.
A public policy blog from AEI
View related content: Politics and Public Opinion
August has come and with it a whole new series of primaries for the 2018 midterm elections. Between the Tennessee primary held August 2nd and the elections in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington August 7th, 43 different veterans were on voters’ ballots. This number includes one write-in Democratic candidate from Michigan who’s certain that his name will appear on the general election ballot.
Compared to veterans in previous primaries this cycle, this group of veterans did not fare so well: Only eight of these veterans will appear on November ballots. Contributing factors to this low number could include the fact that several races featured relatively large numbers of veterans vying against each other,Washington state’s “top two” system (similar to California’s “jungle primary”), and the strength or weakness of the individual candidates. In at least two instances, the incumbent Congressman has announced his retirement after a long legislative career — these have also been veterans, and it’s fair to wonder whether their constituents were looking to fresh biographies with dissimilar traits after such long tenures.
Despite Washington being among the top eight states with the most total active duty and reserve members of the military, being home to over 540,000 veterans including 71,000 retirees and 88,674 military families, and despite the defense sector being the second largest public employer in Washington after the state itself, Washingtonians elected zero veterans in their primary this year. This was not for lack of veterans running: eight veterans — two Democrats and six Republicans — threw their hats into the ring. Meanwhile, Republican District 8 incumbent Dave Reichert (Air Force) announced his retirement.
Washington, like California, has a “top two primary” that pays no attention to political party affiliation — and this cycle, that meant there were 29 different candidates in the Senatorial race alone. Four among those were veterans who ran as Republicans. There was one Post-9/11 female veteran, Dorothy Gasque (Army), who ran as a Democrat in District 3. A fellow Democratic veteran (Army) also ran and lost in District 3, while Republican candidate Jered Bonneau (Army) lost his bid in District 5 to incumbent Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers.
Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Dr. Phil Roe (Army) carried his seat in District 1 against Republican Todd McKinley (Army), a Gulf War Era veteran who’s also seen Post-9/11 service. Tennessee’s only other veteran incumbent, Republican John Duncan (Army), was the longest serving Tennessee legislator, representing District 2 for almost 30 years before announcing retirement earlier this year. In the seven-way Republican race to replace Duncan were three veterans, including one female veteran, Ashley Nickloes (Air Force/Air National Guard), who had to interrupt her campaign when she was deployed to the Middle East in March for an aerial refueling mission. She returned from her eighth deployment in April. Nickloes, however, wasn’t the only Tennessee congressional candidate who found themselves in the unusual situation of trying to mount a campaign while legally unable to contribute to that effort. Over in District 7, Democrat Matt Reel (Army Special Forces) announced his candidacy in December, was deployed just after New Year’s, and only returned in June to his campaign. Neither Nickloes nor Reel were successful in their candidacy, nor were veterans running in Districts 4 and 6. Only Mark Green (Army), who ran uncontested in the Republican primary in District 7, was successful in Tennessee.
The state that’s home to Fort Campbell and the Screaming Eagles and almost half a million veterans fielded 10 veteran candidates in all — two Democrats and eight Republicans — including Democrat Craig Fitzhugh (Air Force) for governor. In November, only one Tennessee veteran will be on the ballot for Congress.
Home to the National World War I Museum, an Army and an Air Force base, the “nation’s strongest military presence,” and not quite half a million veterans, the Show-Me State had six veterans running in its primary election. Three Democrats and three Republican veterans were on the August 7th ballot, and one Democrat and one Republican veteran will be on the November ballot.
Republican Tony Monetti (Air Force) had a good showing in the state’s Senatorial race, but ultimately came in second, still ahead of fellow Republican Courtland Sykes (Navy). Post-9/11 veteran and Democratic candidate Mark Osmack (Army/Army Reserves) was unsuccessful in District 2, as was fellow Democrat Kenneth Hatfield (Army) in District 7. Democrat Henry Martin (Army) had better luck in District 6, as did Republican Jacob Turk (Marine Corps) in District 5.
Michigan has a long military history, stretching from some of the earliest French fortified trading posts to modern National Guard bases. It’s played an integral part in numerous wars, from the French and Indian War to the War of 1812 to WWI and especially WWII. It was home to several Cold War air bases, when it also had numerous other antiaircraft gun or missile installations. Several rounds of BRAC have closed nearly all of these sites and bases, and while Michigan no longer has any traditional active duty military bases, it is still home to seven highly important military locations. This includes the Detroit Arsenal (home to the Army’s Tank-automotive and Armaments Command which manages 65 percent of all Army equipment), Fort Custer training ground, Camp Grayling Joint Military Training Center, and Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, and the Defense Logistics Agency. Largely connected with its manufacturing abilities, the military’s impact on Michigan’s economy is sizeable: In 2016, it added more than $9 billion in gross state product and created nearly $10 billion in personal income.
Small wonder that Bill Cobbs (Navy) believed that some actual military experience should be on the Michigan governor’s resume. A Vietnam-era veteran, Cobbs did a write-in candidacy in the Democratic primary, although he withdrew before the primary. Libertarian candidate John Tartar (Army) was also a gubernatorial candidate, but he appears to have been bested by another Libertarian.
In the Senatorial race, Republican John James (Army) will be headed to the November election. So too will Republicans Travis Wines (Navy) in District 5 and Jack Bergman (Marine Corps) in District 1, where he is the incumbent. Both men ran uncontested. While a close contender, Republican Rocky Raczkowski (Army) was not successful in his District 11 bid, nor was Kerry Bentivolio (Army), who also ran in District 11. On the Democratic side, Steve Friday (Air Force) failed in his bid to represent District 7. Fellow Democrat Matt Morgan (Marine Corps) conducted a write-in campaign in District 1 — he says he is confident that he’s earned the five percent of Democratic voters’ ballots that is needed to get on the November general election ballot. If he succeeds in that, in November four out of an original nine Michigan veterans will be on the ballot.
Kansas is home to one of the largest military installations — US Army Garrison Fort Riley. It’s also home to the storied (or infamous, depending how you look at it) Fort Leavenworth, as well as McConnell Air Force Base. Out of ten Kansas veterans running campaigns this election cycle, only two were from a Service branch other than the Army. Five Republican veterans and five Democratic veterans were on last Tuesday’s ballot, including one female Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Katrina Lewison (Army). She faced Chris Morrow (Navy) in that race, but he was unsuccessful in his bid as well.
Two veterans ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for governor, Arden Anderson (Air Force Reserves) and Carl Brewer (Army National Guard). Republican Secretary of State hopeful Craig McCullah (Army) was equally unsuccessful. Among Congressional candidates, Democratic candidate James Thompson (Army) fared better in District 4, and will go on to the November election. And in District 2, four Republican Army veterans faced off against each other, with West Point graduate, Post-9/11 veteran, and political newcomer Steve Watkins winning the contest against two Vietnam War Era veterans and one fellow Post-9/11 veteran, all of whom had prior political and legislative experience. All told, in November, out of ten initial Kansas veteran candidates, two will be on the ballot.
There are no comments available.
1789 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036
© 2018 American Enterprise Institute