A wave of veterans was vying for office this year, with at least 76 elected or reelected by early Wednesday, Military Times reporter Leo Shane said. An additional 15 veterans in the Senate were not up for reelection and will return next year.
Most veteran candidates are Republicans, Military Times reported.
But Democrats have increasingly prized veterans to help boost their defense bona fides and appeal to more voters. The motivation is clear: The military is the most respected institution in the country, Gallup found, with Congress polling dismal numbers at rock bottom.
Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye to an explosion in combat, was among them. He was mocked days ago for his injury on “Saturday Night Live,” and the joke drew wide condemnation.
Crenshaw did not seem to mind it much after the Republican won the Texas 2nd District on Tuesday.
“I’m feeling elated,” he told Fox News on Wednesday morning. The SNL spot “probably helped” his bid, Crenshaw said, suggesting the race was tighter than expected, though he credited the work of his campaign staffers to push him over the top.
One of the most closely watched Democrats, former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, lost a tight and bitterly contested race to Republican incumbent Rep. Garland “Andy” Barr in Kentucky’s 6th District.
Former helicopter pilot MJ Hegar, another Democratic viral ad star, was narrowly defeated in the blood-red 31st Texas District by GOP Rep. John Carter.
Some other prominent veteran contests were too close to call Wednesday morning, including the Senate race in Arizona featuring Rep. Martha McSally (R), a former Air Force pilot. Her bout with Rep. Krysten Sinema (D) will determine who will claim the seat left by retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.