Vet That Hill

The number of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom alum who ran for Congress in 2008 exceeded the crop that made its bid in 2006. Though some did not make it past the primary, this election day pitted Operation Iraqi Freedom vet mano-a-mano with fellow war veterans in some open-seat races. Win or lose, some might be the fast track to future political stardom. Take for example Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois guardsmember and Blackhawk pilot who lost both legs in Iraq and lost her run for the House in 2006. She now heads the Illinois VA and is rumored as a possible VA secretary in the new administration.

Unlike in 2006, when vets ran as an anti-war bunch, 2008 saw a new crop of Democrats and Republicans, many supporting operations in the CENTCOM Theater.

Stars and Stripes is one outlet that gave more than a few column inches to this subject. A brief rundown:

·      Army lawyer and Democratic lawmaker Patrick Murphy, easily won reelection in Pennsylvania’s 8th District (Bucks County). Murphy served with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from 2003-04. His opponent was Marine Corps veteran Tom Manion, whose son, Travis, was killed by a sniper while serving in Iraq.

·      Another incumbent, reserve Air Force colonel Sen. Lindsay Graham (R) did his lawyer thing during two brief tours in Iraq in 2007. He won reelection in his state of South Carolina.

·      Ohio National Guard lieutenant colonel and Republican Sen. Steve Stivers defeated his Democratic challenger. Stivers served in Iraq four years ago.

·      Another Ohioan, Air Force Fly Boy and Democratic Sen. John Boccieri easily won over his opponent, both vying for a vacant House seat. Major Boccieri flew combat missions on four tours in Iraq. (Air Force tours tend to be shorter in duration than Army and Marine Corps tours, though no less dangerous.)

·      Republican Duncan D. (Dynasty?) Hunter trounced fellow Iraq veteran Mike Lumkpin. Both vets were had their eyes on the California 52nd District seat being vacated by Daddy Duncan Hunter (who happens to be the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee). Baby Hunter has served as a Marine in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

·      Another open congressional seat was easily won by Colorado Republican and Iraq war vet Mike Coffman. Coffman retired in 1999 after 20 years in the Army, Marine Corps, and Marine Reserve. He went into politics only to “step down” as state treasurer in 2005 to reenlist and head to Iraq. Ulterior motives? Don’t know, but voters seemed to like awarding him 60 percent of the vote.

Three other vets who served in support of Operation Enduring Freedom won reelection.

According to stats maintained by MOAA, on the eve of the 2008 elections 35 combat vets were serving in Congress. There were 41 in 2001. How many vets are eyeing a run in 2010?

A list of 2008 candidates published in Stars and Stripes:

Mike Coffman (R) 
CO 6th 

Allen West  (R) 
FL 22nd

Jill Morgenthaler (D) 
IL 6th 

Charlie Summers (R) 
ME 1st 

Nathan Bech (R) 
MA 1st

Steve Sarvi (D) 
MN 2nd

Ashwin Madia (D) 
MN 3rd

Vince Micco (R) 
NJ 9th

Lee Zeldin (R) 
NY 1st

Kieran Michael Lalor (R) 
NY 19th

Will Breazeale (R) 
NC 7th

Duane Sand (R) 
ND at large

Steve Stivers (R) 
OH 15th

John Boccieri (D) 
OH 16th

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) 
PA 8th

Bill Russell (R) 
PA 22nd

Rob Miller (D) 
SC 2nd

Thomas Hermann (Prog) 

Duncan D. Hunter (R) 
CA 52nd

Mike Lumpkin (D) 
CA 52nd

Rick Noriega (D) 
TX (U.S. Senate)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) 
SC (U.S. Senate) 

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