Republicans Plan to Retake the House Using a Key Part of Democrats' 2018 Playbook

AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File

Republicans need just 5 seats in the 2022 mid-terms in order to flip the House and they’re celebrating the military veterans who have decided to run on the GOP ticket.


The military is the most-trusted institution in America and former military candidates do well in swing districts. The GOP has targeted 47 of these districts. The party believes Republicans have a strong lineup to put on the field in 2022, complete with veteran candidates and more women and black candidates who have already entered the races.

The same strategy worked well for Democrats in 2018 when they took over the House. Republicans are hoping they can duplicate that feat.


In the first three months of the off-year, party recruiters are reporting a surge of enthusiasm from a diverse crop of prospective candidates, including women and people of color. National Republican Congressional Committee leaders have so far talked to 112 recruits in their 47 target districts. But they say they are particularly excited about an uptick in interest from those who served in the military — a trend they think will serve them well in competitive districts.

Democrats won the House four years ago thanks to a collection of candidates who were veterans or had national-security experience, a profile that seemed to appeal to swing voters. GOP strategists are acutely aware that they narrowly missed the House majority in 2020 due, in part, to recruitment failures in key districts. And they’re determined to assemble a roster of candidates that can close the five-seat gap and secure control of the chamber.


For Republicans, enlisting military veterans to run for office is a no-brainer. More than two-thirds of all veterans are Republicans. That represents a sizable voting bloc and base of support for any candidate who has had military experience.

Jen Kiggans, a former Navy pilot who now serves as a Virginia state senator and nurse practitioner, is expected to formally launch a run next week against Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in the Tidewater region. Harold Earls IV, a retired Army captain who summited Mt. Everest and led the elite unit that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, just announced a run in suburban Atlanta. And in the Orlando area, Cory Mills, an Army Bronze Star recipient who survived two bombings in the Middle East, is already running against Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.).

It’s no accident that those three candidates are running in states that feature a large number of veterans. All should do well in very competitive districts.

The January 6 Capitol riots appear to have motivated some vets who believe the country is in deep trouble and are looking to serve.

“That scared them. And they want to right the country,” said Sarah Chamberlain, the president of the Republican Main Street Partnership. In searching for 2022 candidates, she said veterans were self-recruiting. “These guys — and women — have fought in battle. And now they’re like, ‘Listen, it’s time to serve here because we don’t want to see the Capitol surrounded by fencing and shut off from the people in this country.’”


Republicans will have one more advantage; congressional districts will be added in some red states. The process of finding the right candidates to run could start by asking if they served. They could certainly do worse.


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