In an election night that saw Republicans sweep political races in the state of Missouri, all the way up and down the ballot, former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens (pictured above) became became just the THIRD former Team guy to ascend to the office of chief executive of an American state, following in the footsteps of Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, and Bob Kerry, the former Governor of Nebraska.
Greitens beat his Democratic opponent, Missouri’s Attorney General, Chris Koster, to surprise the Show Me state in a race that favored Koster most of the way through. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the 42-year old Greitens will become the 56th governor of Missouri when he succeeds Democrat Jay Nixon in January. He won with approximately 52 percent of the vote.
Greitens was not the only former SEAL to win an election victory on November 8th, as a former Assault Team Leader at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), Ryan Zinke, also won re-election as the (only) congressman for Montana in the House of Representatives. He will now serve a second term in that office, as a Republican.
According to the Great Falls Tribune, the 55-year old Zinke, who spent 23 years with the SEALs, is “an ardent supporter of Donald Trump and has gained favor with conservatives through his support of using U.S. ground forces in the war on terrorism and his opposition to allowing Syrian refugees entry into the United States without exhaustive background checks.” Zinke won with approximately 56 percent of the vote.
While in Congress, Zinke criticized the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General’s investigation of Rear Admiral (SEAL) Brian Losey for alleged whistle-blower retaliation. Congressman Zinke had also reportedly been considered as a possible running mate for Trump, and the Congressman’s wife, Lolita, was a Trump surrogate, campaigning for the victorious GOP nominee in North Carolina.
In a statement on his re-election victory, Zinke stated that,
“The veteran voice matters in America, and it is needed in congress.” He went on to praise the fact that perhaps national security, military, and veteran policies would “actually be written by people who have been to war.” He also touted veterans’ ability to work across the aisle, and noted how this could benefit America.
“I’m humbled by the continued support of the people of Montana,” said Ryan Zinke. “This election year was particularly negative on a national scale. Neighbors pitted against each other, lifelong friends no longer speak to one another. Rather than remember what we have in common, we are focusing on what divides us. It’s time for a change. This is not a republican or democrat issue, it’s an American issue. We all have a stake in this and need to move together as one nation to right the course.”
Zinke continued, “I spent the past two years working hard in the House to advance important legislation to rebuild our infrastructure, conserve our public land, deliver tax cuts for families, tribes and small businesses, and get our economy going again. But there’s still more work to be done. I look forward to working with our new president and new members of Congress to make a brighter future for our children and grandchildren.”
Meanwhile, another former SEAL, Scott Taylor, was also elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on November 8th, from the 2nd congressional district of Virginia. Taylor served previously as a state delegate in Virginia, and according to his biography on scotttaylor.us, Taylor served with SEAL Team 4, and completed deployments to Latin America and Iraq.
Greitens, meanwhile, also became the first Jewish governor in Missouri’s history, according to JTA.org. The website reported that Greitens, 42, grew up in the Maryland Heights suburb of St. Louis, MO, and attended the town’s Reform synagogue. From there, the governor-elect attended Duke University, where he became a Rhodes scholar, and went on to study at Oxford, in the United Kingdom.
Missouri political analysts predict, given that Greitens will have the benefit of a Republican-dominated legislature in the state, that the new governor will move to make Missouri a “right to work” state, by pushing specific laws to weaken the power of labor unions in the state. For that reason, most union leadership in the state backed the Democrat in the race.
Clearly, former Navy SEALs are making inroads into the American political landscape, and one would expect them to continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Some, like Greitens, might even ascend to the highest levels of the U.S. government, at some point down the road.
(Featured Image courtesy of AP/Jeff Robberson).