Of the 55 Fighting Dems – veterans of various wars chosen by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to run for the House of Representatives – five won. This is actually a pretty good showing for a batch of newbies, most of whom were against incumbents and/or in Republican districts. The biggest winner among the veterans was not, strictly speaking, a Fighting Dem at all, but a Senate candidate, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb. In the race we followed most closely, the Pennsylvania 7th, the Eldest Gruntling took to the hustings in favor of Vice Admiral Joe Sestack, who unseated a ten-term incumbent.
As Garance Franke-Ruta points out in the New Republic, it did seem to matter which war the veterans were veterans off . Iraq and Afghanistan vets were better able to address the current war issue than Vietnam veterans were, a problem John Kerry had. I am hopeful that these winning younger veterans will have an immediate impact on how the Congress addresses the Iraqi quagmire that we have created.
I also hope that the other 50 Fighting Dems, and many more behind them, run again and stay in the party leadership and in the policy argument. Tammy Duckworth, the wounded helicopter pilot who drew the unenviable assignment of trying to win Henry Hyde's old seat, was the face of this group. If I were running the party, I would find a way for her to be prominently involved still. And perhaps she can run again. We will never run out of wars, and we will never run out of a need for veterans in both parties.