The group’s class of candidates this time around is part of the broader push to grow the community of former military veterans and intelligence officers serving in Congress — making them an increasingly robust force in electoral politics.
Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.) and Max Rose (D-N.Y.) will co-chair the collective fundraising effort, which will also include policy discussions, strategic advising, campaign support and mentorship between the candidates and incumbents. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.), Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) have also joined the group.
Cisneros, Crow, Houlahan, Luria, Sherrill, Slotkin and Spanberger were among some of the most influential and politically vulnerable voices who called for President Trump’s impeachment this past September. Crow, an Army veteran who served in two wars, was tapped as one of the House Democrats’ seven impeachment managers in the Senate trial of Trump.
Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot who was in her New Jersey district on Tuesday, had no problem defending her votes to impeach Trump and said her constituents, whether or not they agree with her on the issue, “are looking for a public servant who acts with integrity.”
“I don’t think any of us who have been in national security and have served for many years all over the world with friends and allies — I don’t think any of us have a hard time talking about this or explaining our decision” to impeach Trump, Sherrill said in an interview. “As long as we are putting the needs and interests of the country first, we are very confident in how we talk about that, and we’re confident about voting on that as well.”
But, Sherill noted, her advice to the candidates endorsed by the coalition is to “be focused on whatever your district needs . . . and whatever it is in your district that keeps people up at night.”
The group is backing candidates in some of the most competitive House races in the country: Army veteran Dan Feehan is again bidding to flip a seat in southern Minnesota after narrowly losing to Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) in 2018. Gina Ortiz Jones, who was narrowly defeated by incumbent Republican Will Hurd in 2018, has also thrown her hat back in the ring to flip Texas’s 23rd district now that Hurd is retiring.
Kim Olson, an Air Force veteran, is running for Texas’s 24th district; Zahra Karinshak is running to flip Georgia’s 7th Congressional District; Jackie Gordon wants to pick up retiring Rep. Peter T. King’s (R-N.Y.) seat; and Nikki Foster is aiming to unseat Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio’s 1st district.
The coalition’s collective support for impeaching Trump, a potential liability for Democrats in swing districts where Trump remains relatively popular with GOP voters, has not dissuaded Democrats from embracing their would-be colleagues.
“Our country needs public servants who know exactly what it means to serve something larger than themselves — leaders who know that our values and our country’s promise are worth fighting for, and that doing so means putting people over partisan politics,” Ortiz Jones said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to earn the Second Service Coalition’s endorsement, and to join this incredible group of leaders who fight every day for our shared values.”
Some of these incumbents, however, face tough reelection contests themselves in the wake of supporting two articles of impeachment accusing the president of abusing the power of his office to pressure Ukraine’s government to announce investigations into Trump’s political rivals — and then obstructing Congress’s investigation of the matter. Out of the group, Slotkin, Rose and Luria are the most endangered, per the Cook Political Report, and are facing challengers highly critical of their decision to impeach Trump.
The coalition will kick off its joint fundraising endeavor in New York City in February followed by events featuring candidates and incumbents leading up to November. An existing joint fundraising initiative between Houlahan, Luria, Sherrill, Slotkin and Spanberger — the Service First Women’s Victory Fund — has raised over $650,000 since announcing the unique agreement last year. This joint fundraising effort is part of a separate agreement.
Emily Cherniack, the founder and executive director of New Politics, said in a statement that perhaps more important than fundraising is growing the group of military and intelligence leaders in Washington.
“This is a movement of remarkable servant leaders who have the core values and courage to rebuild trust in our government and redefine what public service is all about,” said Cherniack. “At a time when so many politicians are just focused on themselves, these leaders understand that they’re stronger when they work together and lift others up.”