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Here are the most-watched veterans running for Congress

Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc in a 2016 photo. (U.S. Special Operations Command Africa photo/Released)
November 04, 2022

Veterans will be on the ballot in more than one-third of national congressional races when voters head to the polls for the midterm elections on Nov. 8.

Almost 200 veterans are running for Congress this year, and 10 are running for governor. All in all, over a fifth of candidates for governor and for Congress are veterans, according to Pew Research.

Military experience in Congress has been steadily declining since around 1970, when 71 percent of representatives and 81 percent of senators were ex-military, according to Pew data. 

Perhaps the highest-ranked veteran candidate is retired brigadier general Don Bolduc, who is running for a Senate seat in New Hampshire against incumbent Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan.

Bolduc’s “American Strength” platform includes cutting government spending, achieving energy independence, and standing up to China, North Korea and Iran, according to his website. But he has drawn more media coverage for flip-flopping on the issue of 2020 election fraud. 

Bolduc had endorsed former president Donald Trump’s claims of a stolen 2020 election during New Hampshire’s Republican primary, but after he won the party’s nomination, he said the 2020 race “was not stolen.” He muddied the water further during a debate when he brought up stories about schoolbuses loaded with illegal voters, as reported by HuffPost.

Trump endorsed Bolduc this week, saying he had been a “strong and proud ‘Election Denier’” who has “since come back.”

Also more well-known for his speeches than platform is Republican Air Force veteran J.R. Majewski, who is running in Ohio against incumbent Democrat Rep. Marcy Kaptur.

The candidate talked up the “tough” conditions during an Afghanistan deployment the Associated Press revealed he never had. And he said he didn’t reenlist because he was punished over a “brawl,” but AP found he was demoted over drunk driving on an air base.

He has said he never intentionally misrepresented his service. His race is listed on the Cook Political Report as Democratic-leaning.

Trump has also endorsed a Republican veteran in Ohio’s high-profile Senate race, J.D. Vance, who is running against Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan. Vance served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including in the Iraq War as a correspondent. 

The candidate rose to the top of his primary after Trump’s April endorsement.

And a former Air Force lieutenant colonel running for Congress in Indiana, Jennifer-Ruth Green, hopes to turn her district red for the first time since 1930, as reported by 

She is one of two veterans of color running in the Republican party this year, according to Her race is listed as a Democratic-leaning toss-up by the Cook Political Report.

Green recently made national headlines after the Air Force leaked her personnel file to an opposition research firm, revealing a sexual assault she suffered on duty. 

Six former Navy SEALs are running for the U.S. House of Representatives with endorsements from SEAL PAC, an organization that has also endorsed more than 30 other veterans in congressional races.

Those candidates include:

  • Ryan Zinke, a former SEAL Team 6 member endorsed by former President Donald Trump running in Montana;
  • Eli Crane, a former SEAL Team 3 member running in Arizona;
  • Conrad Kress, who completed SEAL training and is running in Hawaii;
  • Morgan Luttrell, former SEAL and twin brother of famous SEAL Marcus, running in Texas;
  • Derrick Van Orden, former SEAL running in Wisconsin; and
  • Ed Thelander, former member of SEAL teams 3 and 4 running in Maine.

Polls show Crane and Zinke clinging to narrow 1-and 2-point leads, while Thelander trails his opponent by 35 points, according to data collected by FiveThirtyEight. 

Van Orden was five points ahead of his rival in that race’s most recent poll on FiveThirtyEight, which was taken in August. Polls were unavailable for two, including Luttrell.