Here are the US Military Veterans Running for Office in 2020

November 2, 2020Tim Cooper
veterans running for office

1st Lt. Jeremiah Johnson, a health services administration officer with 501st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, looks for his designated points during a land navigation exercise as part of an Expert Field Medical Badge competition at Fort Bliss, Texas, Sept. 6, 2019. The EFMB test measures the individual medical Soldier’s physical fitness, mental toughness, and ability to perform to standards of excellence in a broad spectrum of critical medical and military skills. The badge was established in June 1965 as a Department of the Army special skill award for the recognition of exceptional competence and outstanding performance by field medical personnel. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Kris Bonet)

Just in time for Election Day, Coffee or Die Magazine surveyed the gubernatorial and Senate races around the country and identified candidates with military experience. Here is what we found. Please note we can only include the information provided by the candidates (or other sources that are readily available). Omissions are not politically motivated — Coffee or Die respects veteran candidates, irrespective of their party affiliation. 

Gubernatorial Candidates


Gov. Eric Holcomb, Republican (Incumbent)

Gov. Holcomb served as an intelligence officer in the US Navy for six years, with stations including Jacksonville, Florida, and Lisbon, Portugal.

Donald Rainwater, Libertarian

Rainwater spent eight years in the US Navy, achieving the rank of Yeoman 2nd Class.


Gov. Mike Parson, Republican (Incumbent)

Gov. Parson served two tours of duty overseas in the US Army as an MP. After returning home, he joined the sheriff’s office and was eventually elected by his community to serve as Polk County sheriff. 

Rik Combs, Libertarian

Combs, a career officer, spent nearly 30 years in the US Air Force. He was an F-4 and F-15 pilot and participated in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Desert Fox, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom.  


DuWayne Hendrickson, Libertarian

According to his official biography, Hendrickson spent “a few years” in the US Army. 


Loren Culp, Republican

Culp served as a sergeant in the US Army 101st Airborne Division and 2nd Infantry Division under President Ronald Reagan. He was an honor graduate in his class of combat engineers, as well as an honor graduate of the Noncommissioned Officer Academy. 

Senatorial Candidates


Sen. Dan Sullivan, Republican (Incumbent)

Sen. Sullivan is presently a colonel in the US Marine Corps Reserve. Since 1993, he has served in a variety of active duty command and staff billets in the reserves. In 2004, Sullivan was recalled to active duty for 18 months to serve as a staff officer to the commander of US Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid, and deployed to the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, and Central Asia. In July 2013, Sullivan was reactivated again to serve in Afghanistan.


Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican (Incumbent)

Sen. Cotton enlisted in the US Army in 2005 and was soon commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry, stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. Cotton served two combat deployments — to Baghdad in 2006 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 101st Airborne Division and another to eastern Afghanistan in 2008 during Operation Enduring Freedom IX. In July 2010, Cotton transferred to the US Army Reserve. Upon his discharge in 2013, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.


Mark Kelly, Democrat

Kelly is a retired US Navy captain and former astronaut. He flew combat missions during the Gulf War before NASA selected him as a space shuttle pilot in 1996. Kelly flew his first space mission in 2001 as pilot of STS-108. He would go on to pilot STS-121 in 2006, then command STS-124 in 2008 and STS-134 in 2011 (the final mission of space shuttle Endeavour). As an interesting side note, Mark’s identical twin, Scott Kelly, is also a retired astronaut. They are the only siblings to have both traveled in space.

Sen. Martha McSally, Republican (Incumbent)

Sen. McSally, a retired Air Force colonel, flew the A-10 Thunderbolt over Iraq and Kuwait in support of Operation Southern Watch. In 1999, she also deployed to Europe in support of Operation Allied Force. McSally is the first woman to command a USAF fighter squadron — the 354th Fighter Squadron — based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. 


Doug Collins, Republican

Collins began his military career in the early 1980s with the US Navy, serving two years as a chaplain. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he joined the Air Force Reserve Command, deploying to Iraq for five months in 2008 with the 94th Airlift Wing. Collins continues to serve with the Air Force Reserves as a chaplain at the rank of lieutenant colonel.


Sen. Joni Ernst, Republican (Incumbent)

Sen. Ernst attended Iowa State University, where she joined the ROTC program at the age of 20. Upon graduation, she joined the US Army Reserve, served as a logistics officer, and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard. In 2003-04, Ernst deployed to Kuwait for 12 months during the Iraq War as the company commander of the 1168th Transportation Company. After 23 years of service, she retired from the military in 2015. 


Roger Marshall, Republican

Dr. Roger Marshall is an obstetrician in Kansas, who served seven years in the US Army Reserve, reaching the rank of captain.


Amy McGrath, Democrat

McGrath is a former US Marine Corps fighter pilot, and the first woman to fly a combat mission for the Marine Corps. She also has the distinction of being the first woman to pilot the F/A-18 on a combat mission. During her 20 years of service, McGrath flew 89 combat missions in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Toward the end of her military career, she served as an instructor at the US Naval Academy.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, Republican (Incumbent)

Sen. McConnell enlisted in the US Army Reserve as a private in 1967 at Louisville, Kentucky. After five weeks of training at Fort Knox, he was diagnosed with optic neuritis, deemed medically unfit for military service, and honorably discharged.


Sen. Ed Markey, Democrat (Incumbent)

Sen. Markey served in the US Army Reserve from 1968 to 1973, attaining the rank of specialist fourth class. 


John James, Republican

After graduating from the US Military Academy at West Point in 2004, James served in the Army as a Ranger-qualified aviation officer. He deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and logged more than 750 hours as an AH-64 Apache pilot. James earned the Combat Action Badge and two Air Medals during his eight-year military career.

Sen. Gary Peters, Democrat (Incumbent)

Sen. Peters joined the US Navy Reserve in 1993. During his 10-year military career, he served with multiple units at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, including Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 26. Peters spent time overseas supporting Operation Southern Watch and various military operations following the Sept. 11 attacks. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander before leaving the Reserve in 2008.


Bryant “Corky” Messner, Republican

Messner left home at age 17 to attend the US Military Academy at West Point. After graduation in 1979, he graduated from the US Army’s Ranger School, then went on to serve abroad in Berlin. 

Justin O’Donnell, Libertarian

O’Donnell served in the Massachusetts Army National Guard from 2009 to 2015.


Cal Cunningham, Democrat

In 2002, Cunningham was commissioned in the US Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General’s Corps. In 2005, Cunningham joined the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as a special assistant US attorney where he continues to serve today. From 2007 to 2008, he was mobilized as the senior trial counsel for the Multi-National Corps in Iraq, and lead counsel for the first court-martial since 1968. In 2011 Cunningham was assigned to work with a special operations task force in Afghanistan.


Sen. Jim Inhofe, Republican (Incumbent)

Sen. Inhofe was drafted into the US Army in 1957, attending basic training at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. He later served as a clerk at Fort Lee, Virginia, and after fulfilling his two-year commitment was honorably discharged as a private first class.

Robert Murphy, Libertarian

Murphy served as an amphibious tractor mechanic in the US Marine Corps from 1965 to 1968.


Sen. Jack Reed, Democrat (Incumbent) 

Sen. Reed graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1971. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantry platoon leader, a company commander, and a battalion staff officer. During his military career, he earned the Ranger Tab and served as a paratrooper in the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He remained in the Army Reserves until 1991, leaving at the rank of major.


Sen. Lindsey Graham (Incumbent)

After joining the US Air Force in 1982, Sen. Graham served on active duty until 1988. He then joined the South Carolina Air National Guard and US Air Force Reserve. During the Gulf War, Graham was recalled to active duty, serving as a judge advocate at McEntire Air National Guard Station in Eastover, South Carolina, where he helped brief departing pilots on the laws of war. He later transferred from the Air National Guard to the Air Force Reserve. In 2004, he was promoted to the rank of colonel by President George W. Bush. Graham remained in the Air Force Reserve, serving as a senior instructor for the Judge Advocate General’s Corps through 2010.


Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar, Democrat

Hegar was commissioned into the US Air Force in 1999 through the ROTC program at the University of Texas. Between April 2000 and March 2004, she served on active duty as an aircraft maintenance officer, working on the F-16 Fighting Falcon and B-2 Stealth Bomber. In 2004, the Air National Guard selected Hegar for pilot training. She graduated at the top of her class. Between 2004 and 2009, Hegar served three deployments to Afghanistan, flying combat search and rescue and medevac missions as a helicopter pilot. On July 29, 2009, on her third tour, she was shot down and wounded near Kandahar on a combat search and rescue mission. Hegar’s actions earned her the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor.


Daniel Gade, Republican

Gade is a retired US Army lieutenant colonel. As a tank company commander in Iraq, he was wounded in action twice and awarded both the Bronze Star and Legion of Merit. As a result of his second injury, Gade lost his entire right leg. He has since become an advocate for government policy reform as it relates to the care of disabled veterans. In 2012, Gade began serving as an adviser at the Philanthropy Roundtable for its veterans work.

House of Representatives Candidates

There are 165 US military veterans running for a seat in the House of Representatives:

Adam Kinzinger, Illinois District 16, Republican, Air Force Guard

Aja Smith, California District 41, Republican, Air Force Reserves

Alan Swain, North Carolina District 2, Republican, Army

Alek Skarlatos, Oregon District 4, Republican, Army National Guard 

Aliscia Andrews, Virginia District 10, Republican, Marine Corps

Andrew Clyde, Georgia District 9, Republican, Navy

Andy Harris, Maryland District 1, Republican, Navy Reserves

Anna Paulina Luna, Florida District 13, Republican, Air Force

Anthony Brown, Maryland District 4, Democrat, Army Reserves

August Pfluger, Texas District 11, Republican, Air Force

Barry Loudermilk, Georgia District 11, Republican, Air Force

Barry Moore, Alabama District 2, Republican, Army National Guard

Bill Johnson, Ohio District 6, Republican, Air Force

Bill Marx, Pennsylvania District 14, Democrat, Marine Corps

Bill Olson, Florida District 9, Republican, Army

Bill Pascrell, New Jersey District 9, Democrat, Army

Billy Prempeh, New Jersey District 9, Republican, Air Force

Blair Walsingham, Tennessee District 1, Democrat, Air Force

Bob Lancia, Rhode Island District 2, Republican, Navy

Bobby Rush, Illinois District 1, Democrat, Army

Bobby Scott, Virginia District 3, Democrat, Army National Guard, Reserves

Brad Wenstrup, Ohio District 2, Republican, Army Reserves

Brandon Martin, Arizona District 2, Republican, Army Reserves

Brett Guthrie, Kentucky District 2, Republican, Army

Brian Mast, Florida District 18, Republican, Army

Brian Babin, Texas District 36, Republican, Air Force

Brian Flowers, Mississippi District 2, Republican, Navy

Buzz Patterson, California District 7, Republican, Air Force

Carla Spalding, Florida District 23, Republican, Navy

Casper Stockham, Colorado District 7, Republican, Air Force

Charles Anthony, Maryland District 3, Republican, Army

Charles Langworthy, Michigan District 9, Republican, Navy

Charlie Winn, Colorado District 2, Republican, Navy

Chip Coldiron, Indiana District 3, Democrat, Army

Chris Stewart, Utah District 2, Republican, Air Force

Chrissy Houlahan, Pennsylvania District 6, Democrat, Air Force

Collin Peterson, Minnesota District 7, Democrat, Army

Connor Lamb, Pennsylvania District 17, Democrat, Marine Corps

Dale Mensing, California District 2, Republican, Navy

Dan Crenshaw, Texas District 2, Republican, Navy

Dan Feehan, Minnesota District 1, Democrat, Army

Daniel Wood, Arizona District 3, Republican, Marine Corps

Danyell Lanier, Oklahoma District 2, Democrat, Navy

Darrell Issa, California District 50, Republican, Army

Derrick Van Orden, Wisconsin District 3, Republican, Navy

Devin Pandy, Georgia District 9, Democrat, Army

Don Bacon, Nebraska District 2, Republican, Air Force

Don Cole, Georgia District 2, Republican, Army

Don Young, Arkansas District 1, Republican, Army

Elaine Luria, Virginia District 2, Democrat, Navy

Esther Joy King, Illinois District 17, Republican, Army Reserves

G.K. Butterfield, North Carolina District 1, Democrat, Army

Gil Cisneros, California District 39, Democrat, Navy

Gina Ortiz Jones, Texas District 23, Democrat, Air Force

Greg Pence, Indiana District 6, Republican, Marine Corps

Greg Raths, California District 45, Republican, Marine Corps

Greg Steube, Florida District 17, Republican, Army

Guy Reschenthaler, Pennsylvania District 14, Republican, Navy

Harold Rogers, Kentucky District 5, Republican, Army National Guard

Hillary O’Connor Mueri, Ohio District 14, Democrat, Navy

Hosea Cleveland, South Carolina District 3, Democrat, Army

Ike McCorkle, Colorado District 4, Democrat, Marine Corps

Jack Bergman, Michigan District 1, Republican, Marine Corps

Jackie Gordon, New York District 2, Democrat, Army Reserves

Jake Auchincloss, Massachusetts District 4, Democrat, Marine Corps

James Averhart, Alabama District 1, Democrat, Marine Corps

James Rhodes, Kentucky District 1, Democrat, Army

James Waters, California District 46, Republican, Marine Corps

Jared Golden, Maine District 2, Democrat, Marine Corps

Jason Crow, Colorado District 6, Democrat, Army

Jay Allen, Maine District 1, Republican, Army

Jeanne Ives, Illinois District 6, Republican, Army

Jeff Jordan, Virginia District 8, Republican, Army

Jesse Jensen, Wisconsin District 8, Republican, Army

Jim Kennedy, Florida District 8, Democrat, Navy

Jim Baird, Indiana District 4, Republican, Army

Jim Banks, Indiana District 3, Republican, Navy Reserves

Jimmy Panetta, California District 20, Democrat, Navy Reserves

Joe Akana, Hawaii District 2, Republican, Air Force

Joe Collins, California District 43, Republican, Navy

Joe Wilson, South Carolina District 2, Republican, Army

John Collick, Virginia District 3, Republican, Marine Corps

John McCollum, South Carolina District 6, Republican, Navy

Johnny Salling, Maryland District 2, Republican, Army

Josh Hicks, Kentucky District 6, Democrat, Marine Corps

Joyce Griggs, Georgia District 1, Democrat, Army

Juan Hidalgo Jr., California District 51, Republican, Marine Corps

Julie Hall, Massachusetts District 4, Republican, Air Force

Justin Anderson, Connecticut District 2, Republican, Army National Guard

Kai Kahele, Hawaii District 2, Democrat, Air Force Guard

Kathy Barnette, Pennsylvania District 4, Republican, Army Reserves

Kendall Qualls, Minnesota District 3, Republican, Army

Kim Mangone, California District 23, Democrat, Air Force

Kimberly Walker, Florida District 12, Democrat, Air Force

Kyle Van De Water, New York District 19, Republican, Army Reserves

Larry Bucshon, Indiana District 8, Republican, Navy Reserves

Lee Zeldin, New York District 1, Repubican, Army Reserves

Louie Gohmert, Texas District 1, Republican, Army

Luke Negron, Pennsylvania District 18, Republican, Air Force

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Iowa District 2, Republican, Army

Mark Green, Tennessee District 7, Republican, Army

Mark Amodei, Nevada District 2, Republican, Army

Mark Richardson, Ohio District 3, Republican, Navy

Max Rose, New York District 11, Democrat, Army

Melissa Watson, South Carolina District 7, Democrat, Army

Mia Mason, Maryland District 1, Democrat, Navy

Michael Harvey, Pennsylvania District 3, Republican, Navy Reserves

Mike Bost, Illinois District 12, Republican, Marine Corps

Mike Cargile, California District 35, Republican, Army

Mike Gallagher, Wisconsin District 8, Republican, Marine Corps

Mike Garcia, California District 25, Republican, Navy

Mike Thompson, California District 5, Democrat, Army

Mike Waltz, Florida District 6, Republican, Army

Mikie Sherrill, New Jersey District 11, Democrat, Navy

Moe Davis, North Carolina District 11, Democrat, Air Force

Neal Dunn, Florida District 2, Republican, Army

Nick Freitas, Virginia District 7, Republican, Army

Pam Keith, Florida District 18, Democrat, Navy

Pat Fallon, Texas District 4, Republican, Air Force

Peter DeFazio, Oregon District 4, Democrat, Air Force

Peter Meijer, Michigan District 3, Republican, Army Reserves

Phil Ehr, Florida District 1, Democrat, Navy

Rich McCormick, Georgia District 7, Republican, Marine Corps, Navy

Rick Crawford, Arkansas District 1, Republican, Army

Rick Donovan, New York District 26, Republican, Army Reserves

Rick Laib, Illinois District 11, Republican, Army Reserves

Rick Neighbors, Alabama District 4, Democrat, Army

Rob Weber, Ohio District 9, Republican, Army

Ronny Jackson, Texas District 13, Republican, Navy

Ruben Gallego, Arizona District 7, Democrat, Marine Corps

Rudy Soto, Idaho District 1, Democrat, Army National Guard

Salud Carbajal, California District 24, Democrat, Marine Corps Reserves

Sanford Bishop Jr., Georgia District 2, Democrat, Army

Sargis Sangari, Illinois District 9, Republican, Army

Scott Huffman, North Carolina District 13, Democrat, Navy

Scott Fitzgerald, Wisconsin District 5, Republican, Army Reserves

Scott Franklin, Florida District 15, Republican, Navy

Scott Perry, Pennsylvania District 10, Republican, Army National Guard

Scott Taylor, Virginia District 2, Republican, Navy

Sean Parnell, Pennsylvania District 17, Republican, Army

Seth Moulton, Massachusetts District 6, Democrat, Marine Corps

Steve Negron, New Hampshire District 2, Republican, Air Force

Steve Stivers, Ohio District 15, Republican, Army National Guard

Steve Womack, Arkansas District 3, Republican, Army National Guard

Steven Palazzo, Mississippi District 4, Republican, Marine Corps

Tamika Hamilton, California District 3, Republican, Air Force

Ted Lieu, California District 33, Democrat, Air Force

Tim Hazelo, Washington District 2, Republican, Navy

Tom Palzewicz, Wisconsin District 5, Democrat, Navy

Tom Watson, Texas District 19, Democrat, Marine Corps

Tom Zmich, New York District 6, Republican, Army Reserves

Tony Gonzales, Texas District 23, Republican, Navy

Tre Pennie, Texas District 30, Republican, Army

Trent Kelly, Mississippi District 1, Republican, Army National Guard

Troy Nehls, Texas District 22, Republican, Army Reserves

Tyler Kistner, Minnesota District 2, Republican, Marine Corps

Van Taylor, Texas District 3, Republican, Marine Corps

Vern Buchanan, Florida District 16, Republican, Air Force Guard

Warren Davidson, Ohio District 8, Republican, Army

Wendell Champion, Texas District 18, Republican, Army

Wesley Hunt, Texas District 7, Republican, Army

William Hanson, Arkansas District 4, Democrat, Army

William Timmons, South Carolina District 4, Republican, Army National Guard

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article included brief descriptions of the candidates running for a seat in the US House of Representatives. Those descriptions have been removed.

Tim Cooper
Tim Cooper

Tim Cooper is a contributing writer for Coffee or Die and has been a freelance writer for more than 20 years. He is also a certified firearms instructor and soon-to-be-famous recording artist with Fat Chance Records. When Tim is not traveling the world on assignment, which is actually more often than not, you will probably find him at a nearby shooting range or sitting behind a drum kit, staring at his bandmates in bewilderment.

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