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As Long as We Remember...

August 26, 2005

The Fighting Democrats

Chris Charuhas

All over the country, veterans of the Iraq war are coming forward to run for Congress – as Democrats. We’ve even got a “Dem Vet” candidate here in Frederick County: Iraq war veteran Andrew Duck.

As a military intelligence officer with the Army in Iraq, Captain Duck saw what was happening there firsthand, and came to the same conclusion as an increasing number of soldiers: Congress has enabled the Bush Administration to make some big messes, and it’s about time we started cleaning them up.

So Mr. Duck decided to run for Congress here in Maryland’s Sixth District. He has begun his campaign to unseat Roscoe Bartlett, the incumbent Republican.

Paul Hackett, the Marine Corps major and Iraq war veteran who ran for Congress in Ohio, is the most prominent of this new crop of “Dem Vet” candidates. He ran in a special election in a heavily Republican district and nearly won, gaining national recognition in the process. Joining Mr. Duck and Mr. Hackett as Democratic candidates for Congress are several other Iraq war veterans:

Veterans of past wars are also running for Congress as Democrats. Joe Sulzer, a Vietnam veteran, is running against scandal-ridden Republican Bob Ney in Ohio’s Sixth District.

These veterans’ candidacies are not quixotic campaigns. Successful candidates need money, and, through most of his campaign, Mr. Hackett raised more money than his opponent. This prompted a huge cash infusion to his opponent from an alarmed Republican Congressional Committee.

In only five weeks, Mr. Murphy raised over $90,000 – a startling sum for a first-time candidate. Andrew Duck is holding his first fundraiser in September, which looks to be very well-attended.

These Democratic candidates betray their military backgrounds: they deliver straight talk with no spin. When GOP propagandist Rush Limbaugh accused Mr. Hackett of fighting in Iraq to “pad his resume,” Mr. Hackett responded by saying: “That's typical for that fatass drug addict to come up with something like that.”

Mr. Duck is also unafraid to tell the unvarnished truth. About his opponent he says: “Roscoe Bartlett neglects veterans. He voted against providing sufficient funds for veterans’ medical care. The same day he had a letter published in The Hagerstown Herald Mail attempting to defend that vote, he again voted to deny the Veterans Administration the money it needs to take care of soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The Iraq war has been bungled so badly that it’s driven these “Dem Vets” to run for Congress. As Iraq continues to deteriorate, congressmen who supported the Bush administration’s bungling of the war, such as Roscoe Bartlett, will become vulnerable. Dem Vets, such as Mr. Duck, will make them feel the heat.

If recent history is any guide, the vulnerable Republicans will respond with “Swift Boat”-style lies and smears. It will be interesting to see whether the incumbent in Maryland’s Sixth District honors Mr. Duck’s service, or follows his party’s lead: talk trash about opponents, even if these opponents are the troops you profess to support.

If the incumbent chooses to play dirty, one thing is for sure: Andrew Duck will do his Army training proud and fight back hard.

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