Vets in Congress: The Election Results Roll In

An astounding 172 military veterans are running for Congress this election, including 67 incumbents and 105 challengers or newcomers. 

Tonight's returns could see more vets from both sides of the aisle seated in a Congress, a development that experts say could promote a greater sense of bipartisanship and will to work together on key issues. 

Other qualities this wave of military veterans may bring to Congress include unique perspectives regarding foreign policy and use of military force; "maverick" attitudes and a willingness to cross party lines; and a collaborative attitude, among other things. 

"If you look at satisfaction levels, there are metrics that show how confidence in government is an all-time low," Ellen Zeng, political director for the cross-partisan organization With Honor, told Military.com earlier this week. "People have lost trust in government. ... But at the same time, the military is one of the last institutions where there is still a lot of trust."

Here at Military.com, we'll be following 28 of the most competitive House and Senate races featuring veterans on the ticket, and bringing you updated poll results all night long.

Update: 11:36 p.m.

In Texas' 23rd Congressional District, Republican incumbent Will Hurd held off Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer with tours in Iraq. Ortiz Jones, who would go on to work as an intelligence analyst for U.S. Africa Command, is one of five female veterans who ran in these hotly contested races. So far tonight, two, Elaine Luria and Mikie Sherill, have won their races, and two more, Amy McGrath and Ortiz Jones, have lost. Incumbent Martha McSally's Arizona Senate race has yet to be decided.

Update: 11:18 p.m.

Decisions in two veterans' races in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania's 10th District, where two vets squared off, the Republican incumbent, Scott Perry, is projected to hold his seat against challenger George Scott, a retired Army lieutenant colonel.

Perry is the first general officer to win one of these contested races; he is a one-star in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. Perry assumed office in 2013 and is a member of the House Freedom Caucus.

And in Pennsylvania's 16th District, another Republican win: Republican incumbent Mike Kelly holds off veteran challenger Ronald DiNicola, a Marine veteran who won the All-Marine boxing title while in the service.

Update: 10:32 p.m.

In Virginia's 2nd Congressional District, another overturn. Republican incumbent Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, has been unseated by Democratic challenger Elaine Luria, a former Navy surface warfare officer who retired as a commander. 

Taylor was elected in 2016. He served in the SEALS from 1997 to 2005.

Luria, who served 20 years in the Navy, deployed on ships to the Middle East and Western Pacific, among other regions, over the course of her career.

Update: 10:26 p.m.

A Democratic candidate who says he's the first post-9/11 Afghanistan combat veteran to seek office in New York City has won New York's 11th District. Max Rose, an Army veteran who still serves in the Army National Guard, has unseated Republican incumbent Dan Donovan.

Update: 10 p.m.

One veteran unseats another in Colorado, and a former Navy helicopter pilot heads to Congress.

Army veteran Jason Crow, a Democrat has defeated Republican incumbent Mike Coffman to win Colorado's 6th District. Crow, a former member of the Army's elite 75th Ranger Regiment, deployed once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan, attaining the rank of captain. Following his military career, he advocated for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and advised President Barack Obama's reelection campaign.

Coffman, who served in both the Army and the Marine Corps, has served in Congress since 2009.

In New Jersey, Rebecca Michelle "Mikie" Sherill, a Democrat has been projected to beat Republican Jay Webber in New Jersey's 11th District. Sherill, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who flew the Navy H-3 Sea King helicopter and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander, flew missions throughout the Middle East and Europe, according to her official biography.

Update: 9:27 p.m.

West Virginia's 3rd Congressional District is now being called for  Republican Carol Miller, who defeated retired Army Maj. Richard Ojeda, a Democratic candidate for the open seat.

Ojeda served in the Army from 1988 to 2013, retiring as a major. He deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq during his career, earning two Bronze stars. His campaign for West Virginia state senate in 2016 made national headlines when he was brutally beaten at an event just before his primary.

Editor's note: An earlier update incorrectly reported that the race had been called for Ojeda. We regret the error.

Update: 9:07 p.m.

After a nail-biter race, one of the most talked-about contests involving a veteran this year has been decided. Democratic challenger Amy McGrath, a retired Marine Corps aviator whose campaign ad focused on her trailblazing career went viral in 2017, lost her bid to unseat Republican incumbent Andy Barr in Kentucky's 6th District. 

McGrath told Military.com she wanted to get beyond partisan politics if elected, but added that she was troubled by what she perceived as President Donald Trump's failure to understand his role as commander-in-chief.

Update: 8:55 p.m.

Another fresh face for the House among the veterans' races we're tracking: former Green Beret Michael Waltz, a Republican, has won his race against Democrat Nancy Soderberg, a National Security Council alum from the Clinton administration. Waltz, who served in the Army for 21 years and retired as a lieutenant colonel, deployed twice to Afghanistan and earned four Bronze Stars, according to his campaign biography. His work in Afghanistan included leading the search for Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who left his post and was subsequently captured by the Taliban.

Waltz has worked for Fox News as a commentator.

Update: 8:45 p.m.

The first loss to report of the night among the 28 races we're tracking: Veteran Marine infantry officer Bob Hugin fails to unseat incumbent Bob Menendez in the New Jersey Senate. Hugin used the hashtag #sendinamarine on his Twitter page to promote his campaign; he served on active duty from 1976 to 1983, and in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1983 to 1990.

Update: 8:30 p.m.

More veteran wins to report. ABC is projecting wins for Republican Denver Riggleman of Virginia and Republican incumbent Brian Mast of Florida.

Riggleman is the first military veteran newcomer to the House, winning against investigative journalist Leslie Cockburn, a former reporter for "60 Minutes" in Virginia's 5th Congressional District. The race was considered a toss-up, but Riggleman was projected to win a little more than an hour after polls closed. 

A former Air Force intelligence officer, Riggleman joined the service in 1992 as an enlisted airman and later earned his commission, according to his biography. He assisted in planning bombing missions over Afghanistan, according to a Washington Post profile.

Brian Mast, a former Army explosive ordnance disposal technician and double amputee who was elected to Florida's 18th District in 2016, prevailed over Democratic challenger Lauren Baer to hold onto his seat. Mast has said he first thought of running for office while recovering from injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He sits on the House Veterans Affairs and Foreign Affairs committees.

Update, 8:15 p.m.

The first of our hot 28 races featuring veteran candidates has been decided: Republican incumbent Vern Buchanan will stay in his House seat in Florida's 16th District, according to network projections. Buchanan, who has served six terms in Congress, served six years in the Michigan Air National Guard and has championed an array of veterans' issues, including legislation to create a veteran ID card, which became law under President Barack Obama.

Buchanan defeated Democratic challenged David Shapiro to hold onto his seat.

This story will be updated; check back often for the latest.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

-- Gina Harkins contributed to this report.

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