More than 100 military veterans are on ballots across the country looking to head to Washington this Election Day, including seven running for a spot in the Senate.
According to data compiled by the Washington Examiner, 112 Democrat and Republican candidates are running for a seat in the House or Senate who identify themselves as veterans on their campaign website. This number does not include veterans already serving in Congress either running for their old seat or running for a new position. California and Louisiana topped the list for the most number of veterans running for national office, with nine each.
Among those running for the Senate is Jason Kander, a former captain in the Missouri National Guard who is challenging Republican Sen. Roy Blunt. RealClearPolitics ranks the race as a toss-up, and an average of polls put Blunt ahead by just 1.3 points.
Kander enrolled in Army ROTC in 2002 when he started law school, and enlisted in the National Guard in 2003, according to his campaign page's bio. He later become an officer in 2005 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army reserve. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2006, serving as a military intelligence officer, before leaving the military with an honorable discharge in 2011.
In one campaign ad, Kander assembles a rifle blindfolded, issuing a challenge to Blunt to do the same.
Having more veterans in Congress provides a valued perspective on the true costs of war as well as insight into the inner workings of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said this year. Cotton, who served as an Army infantry officer before running for Congress in 2012, predicted the number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans running for higher office would increase over the next decade as they move into their late 30s and 40s.
"You've already seen a lot of them running for office at the local level, at the state level, which is sort of the farm team for Congress," Cotton said in June.
There were 101 members of Congress who had served in the military at the start of the 114th Congress in January 2015, or 18.7 percent of Congress, according to a Congressional Research Service report. Twenty of those serve in the Senate.
That's down from 108 in the 113th Congress and 118 in the 112th. The overall number of vets serving in Congress is reportedly projected to continue to drop in the 115th Congress next year.
Other veterans running for the Senate face an uphill battle to win a seat:
— Rob Maness, a Republican running for the Louisiana's Senate seat, retired from the Air Force in 2011 after serving more than 32 years in uniform, during which he served as a bomber squadron commander in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was in the Pentagon during Sept. 11. He trails John Kennedy, the front-runner in the race, by almost 20 points.
— Democrat Jay Williams, who is running in South Dakota, served in the Navy for 10 years as a naval aviator, spending some time as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot in Italy and Virginia Beach. The race against incumbent Republican Sen. John Thune is rated as safely Republican by RealClearPolitics and some polls put Thune ahead by about 20 points.
— In Connecticut, Republican Dan Carter is trailing incumbent Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal by more than 20 points. Carter was a C-130 Hercules pilot in the Air Force during Operation Desert Storm. He left the military in 1999 as major after a 10-year career.
— Darryl Glenn, a Republican running for the Senate in Colorado, graduated from the Air Force Academy and served on active duty and the reserve for 21 years. The race leans to the left, with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., up by about 7 points.
— John Carroll, a Republican running for Hawaii's Senate seat, served in the Air Force as a fighter pilot during the Korean War. The race against Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, is rated as safely Democratic by RealClearPolitics.
— Patrick Wiesner, a Democrat, is challenging GOP Sen. Jerry Moran for one of Kansas' spots in the Senate, which is rated as a safely Republican state that Moran leads by double digits. Wiesner served for 21 years in the Army and Navy reserve as a judge advocate general, retiring in 2014 as a major.