June 28, 2010
Top 10 Reasons GOP Must Rally behind Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran CandidatesBy Kieran Michael Lalor
War on Terror Vets Should Be the Tip of the GOP Spear
10. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Are a Rare Breed: The current generation of veterans is pure volunteer. They joined the military when there was no draft, when military service was the exception rather than the rule, as it was in previous generations. Many Iraq and Afghanistan vet candidates enlisted after 9/11, knowing combat was inevitable.
9. Sarah Palin Has Their Back: In a March Facebook posting, Gov. Sarah Palin, the mother of an Iraq vet, said, "There are a number of great veteran candidates running for office this year, and there are some excellent organizations dedicated to helping them, including: Iraq Vets For Congress[.]"
8. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Have Sacrificed Much: If you think about the lifestyle that our veterans' peers enjoyed in the first decade of 21st century while they themselves were fighting radical Islam, it is quite clear that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have put this great country ahead of their own comfort and ambitions. This is precisely the type of person we want to send to Congress.
7. The Percentage of Veterans in Congress is Woefully Low: In 1981, 62% of Congress had served in the military. Today, only 22% have worn the uniform of this great nation. If there had been more veterans in Congress, there would have been a critical mass to challenge the Obama administration's dangerously politically correct review of the Fort Hood massacre. Likewise, our military wouldn't have to fight two wars while simultaneously fighting the Left's attempt to use our troops as guinea pigs in the social experiment of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. National security is the most important responsibility of the federal government. Therefore, those who have experience defending the nation should be well-represented in the Congress to offer firsthand insights about polices, funding, equipment, and intelligence.
6. Gary Berntsen is Chuck Schumer's Worst Nightmare: If you were to waterboard Chuck Schumer and ask him whom he does not want to run against, he'd gurgle out the name "Gary Berntsen." Reason being, Berntsen is a real-deal terror warrior, and his strengths perfectly highlight Schumer's weaknesses. Berntsen served for 23 years in the CIA's clandestine service, where he was Chief of Station in Afghanistan at the dawn of the War on Terror. By contrast, Schumer is a self-serving career politician who couldn't or wouldn't stop the civilian trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed from coming to New York City.
5. War on Terror Veterans Are Better Candidates than Rich Guys: In 2008, The National Republican Congressional Committee ignored underfunded Iraq vets and supported millionaires like Sandy Treadwell, who was considered a blue-chip candidate by the press and GOP alike. Treadwell, running in New York's 20th District, was the former Secretary of State and state GOP Chairman. He spent $7 million and mustered only 38 percent in a district that had 70,000 more Republicans than Democrats. Meanwhile, Republican Iraq veterans did much better than other Republican candidates. Even in liberal New York, where the average Republican challenger got 25% of the vote, the two Iraq veterans who ran got 42% of the vote in suburban districts evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
4. Had the GOP Establishment Gone with the Iraq Vet, They Would Have Won Murtha's Old Seat: Party insiders rejected Bill Russell as the party nominee to run in the special election to replace the late Jack Murtha. The snub came despite the fact that the retired Lt. Col. and Iraq War veteran had given Murtha a real fight as nominee in 2008, raising $3.6 million and earning 42 percent of the vote. Instead of Russell, the establishment backed Tim Burns, who is worth nine figures and was willing to part with substantial portions of it to get the nomination. Last month, Burns got 44% in a special election running against an unknown former Murtha aide. It is easy to see what would have been had the GOP gone with the Iraq vet. Russell got 42% against one of the nation's most entrenched incumbents in a historically horrible year for Republicans. Burns got 45% against a nobody, running for an open seat, in one of the best Republican years ever.
3. Allen West Is a Republican Rock Star: With a chest full of medals, a commanding presence, spectacular oratorical skills, and an inspiring belief in conservative values, Lt. Col. West is poised to become the first African-American Republican in the House since J.C. Watts. In the first quarter of 2010, West outraised the incumbent two to one and was ahead 44%-42% in the initial poll of the race.
2. Character Still Matters: When you compare these citizen-soldiers striving to become citizen-statesmen with the jackals currently in Congress and contrast the military pedigree of honor and sacrifice with the culture of corruption and abuse of power, the difference is stunning.
1. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are Fearless: In this era of discontent with government, voters realize that those who have already gone eye-to-eye with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Sunni insurgency are more than equipped to stand up to special interests, party bosses, and an ideologue president.
Republican Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Endorsed by Iraq Veterans For Congress PAC:
Justin Bernier (CT-5 Navy / Afghanistan)
Kevin Calvey (OK-5 Army / Iraq)
Dan Gilyeat (KS-3 Marine Corps / Iraq)
*Tim Griffin (AR-2 Army / Iraq)
*Dr. Joe Heck (NV-3 Army / Iraq)
Jesse Kelly (AZ-8 Marine Corps / Iraq)
*Adam Kinzinger (IL-11 Air Force / Iraq and Afghanistan)
*Todd Lally (KY-3 Air Force / Iraq and Afghanistan)
*Patrick Murray (VA-8 Army / Iraq)
*Illario Pantano (NC-7 Marine Corps / Iraq)
*Nick Popaditch (CA-51 Marine Corps / Iraq)
Rocky Raczkowski (MI-9 Army / Afghanistan)
Brian Rooney (MI-7 Marine Corps / Iraq)
Lang Sias (CO-7 Air Force)
Steve Stivers (OH-15 Army / Iraq)
Allen West (FL-22 Army / Iraq)
Gary Berntsen (NY-SEN CIA / Afghanistan)
* candidate already won primary
Kieran Michael Lalor is founder of Iraq Veterans For Congress, a federally registered political action committee supporting the congressional campaigns of conservative Republican veterans.