Democrats Look to Tap Military Vets for 2014

Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 11:33 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Democrats have launched a campaign to recruit military veterans to run in the 2014 midterm elections, hoping it will be harder for Republicans to launch character assassinations against them.

The party needs to gain 17 seats to win the lower chamber, and has already recruited half a dozen vets in Republican leaning districts, reports Politico

They include Jerry Cannon, a 65-year-old retired Army major general and commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention center who is hoping to challenge Rep. Dan Benishek in Michigan, Kevin Strouse, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet who is vying for the party nomination to run against tea party-linked Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick in suburban Philadelphia, and Iraq war vet Jim Mowrer, who wants to take on ultra-conservative Rep. Steve King in Iowa.

“This is a concerted effort, and it’s part of a surge of veterans running as Democrats in the last few years,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told Politico, adding, “It used to be that Democrats started out from behind on national security but that’s been erased.”

Among Israel’s other recruits is Virginia Democrat Suzanne Patrick, a retired Navy commander and George W. Bush Pentagon appointee, who told Politico she believed her military credentials would help shield her from the perception that she’s a liberal.

“I think at the heart of the military ethos is an approach that is very bipartisan,” said Patrick, who hopes to take on Rep. Scott Rigell. “Partisanship is just not a core value for the military.”

Republicans, however, maintain the new tactic won't work.

“These candidates are in for a rude awakening. President Obama’s policies—from Obamacare to his mishandling of Syria—are increasingly unpopular, and any Democrat candidate in 2014 is going to be forced to defend him,” said Andrea Bozek, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman.

Some would-be Democratic recruits are shying away from the challenge. Brendan Mullen, an Army vet who narrowly lost to Jackie Walorski in a hard-fought Congressional race in Indiana last year, has decided not to run against the Republican again in 2014, according to The Elkhart Truth.

He sent an email blast in July saying he’s focused for now on his wife and young children and developing his small consulting business. “I’m not sure what the future holds, but in the meantime I’ve got diapers to change, dinner to prepare and payroll to process,” he said in the email.

Republicans were quick to respond. “As another one of the national Democrats’ top recruits drops out, [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi’s fantasy of Democrats reclaiming the House becomes further out of reach every day,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Katie Prill told the Truth.

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