More Democratic female vets ran in 2018 US House races than ever and in more favorable districts

Here’s a visualization of all the Democratic women with military experience who have ran as challengers against Republican incumbents and in open seats since 2004. Best_Teigen_FemaleVets2018Scatterplot

This cycle not only featured more than ever with nine (outside of Louisiana, California, and Washington, which have peculiar systems), they emerged in more winnable districts. (Link back to article)

Pro tip: don’t compare military service to anything

There is a lot of attention on the congressional race in Kentucky’s sixth where one of the several female Democrats with military experience is challenging a nonveteran GOP incumbent. Congressman Andy Barr made an unforced error when he appeared to some to put his time in Congress somehow as equivalent to challenger Amy McGrath’s time flying F/A-18s in combat over Iraq and Afghanistan. Details of what he actually said can be found here, but this just looks like a freshman error for someone trying to remain in office. Remember when Mitt Romney tried to convey that the time his sons were spending helping him try to win the presidency was somehow tantamount to serving in the armed forces? That only put more light on the sons’ (and Romney’s) lack of service.

Enduring Freedom

Why does it seem like this was an really easy one to avoid? McGrath’s service is vividly central in her campaign biography, maybe more so than the other vets running. Even down to the last detail: her campaign website’s favicon is a little blue outline of an F/A-18.

Photo credit.

Bong’s district!

I received word that there was a female veteran hoping to challenge Republican Sean Duffy of the Wisconsin 7th congressional district. The district appears fairly purple, and we all know that rural Wisconsin is ground-zero for the sort of places where Trump gained ground on Obama’s previous vote shares. It’s unclear if she is the sole Dem in the race, but we’ll stay tuned to WI-7. The district has a veteran population right around 10%

An article on WKOW’s website is not terribly revealing, but I gathered that Margaret Engebretson is putting her military service experience center stage given that her Twitter handle is @vetfordemocracy. What caught my eye at the tail of the story (twin tail?!?), however, was that she plans to officially announce her candidacy at the Richard I. Bong historical site.

Who is Richard I. Bong, you ask? He is one of Wisconsin’s most famous sons! The Medal of Honor winner shot down 40, FORTY, Japanese planes over the Pacific in World War II. He flew one of the most distinctive of our fighters, the twin-tailed, twin-engined P-38.

392d_Fighter_Squadron_Lockheed_P-38G-10-LO_Lightning_42-12982 With the propellers off to the side, the P-38 could support a ton of gun right in the nose. (Photo, which is not Bong’s plane, from Wikimedia

Cadet Bones Spurs

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is starting to become one of the most newsworthy members of her cohort of legislators. She recently announced her pregnancy, which warranted coverage given the fact that no sitting U.S. senator has ever had a baby (given birth!) before.

However, more relevant to our interests, she has become one of the top Democrats’ go-to Donald Trump critics. I’m paying specific attention to how she weaves her own military service in Iraq into her criticisms of the president.

Duckworth, an OIF Black Hawk pilot injured by an RPG, has been increasingly vocal in engaging Trump. Her most recent appellation for the president is “Cadet Bone Spurs,” circa this tweet:

This was a retort, hitting back at Trump’s February 5th diversion-from-the-teleprompter in Ohio, in which he insinuated that those that failed to clap for him at the State of the Union were possibly “treasonous,” though he framed it in his frequently-used “they say” or “some say” pattern.

She’s also called him a “five-deferment draft dodger,” presumably in reference to the educational and medical deferments Trump obtained during the Vietnam War.

In my new book, I did my best to make a bang-up index. Regrettably, while you can find “beef, embalmed,” I felt “spurs, bone” not sufficiently index-worthy. More seriously, the book does of course speak to Trump’s 2016 candidacy in the context of other Vietnam-war eligible presidential candidates, roughly from Bill Clinton to Trump.

(image from wikimedia)

Female vets challenging in Philly ‘burbs

WHYY has a story on Rachel Reddick, Chrissy Houlahan, and Shelly Chauncey–three women with military or national defense credentials. Reddick was in the navy, Houlahan served in the air force, while Chauncey spent time in the Central Intelligence Agency. (Houlahan pictured above, photo from her campaign website)

The story ominously, but probably accurately predicts how these candidates to take advantage of voters’ perceptions of candidates with defense credentials:

Expect to see some military imagery when the ads, videos, and mail pieces appear this spring.


The three women are Democrats. Reddick, challenging in the 8th PA district, faces the most vulnerable incumbent. Romney barely won the district in 2012 and the incumbent, Brian Fitzpatrick (a former FBI man), scratched out a close victory in 2016.