Endorsed Candidates for Congress
Our Endorsement Philosophy
Common Defense endorses candidates based on a holistic approach that implements our vision of how to win real change. We believe that to take back our democracy we need candidates who are bold and values-based, and come from and represent the diverse movements of our communities. We look for people who will champion an aligned, inclusive, egalitarian vision that challenges the status quo power structure and stands with working people, not elites, in order to counter the ethno-nationalist right-wing populism of Trump and the Republican Party. We look for candidates who inspire the grassroots support of regular people, not just the rich.
As progressive veterans and military families, we believe that patriotism means having a responsibility to fight for a more just country for all of us, and that there are many forms of service. That means that we also support candidates who aren’t themselves veterans, but represent the same values that led us to serve.
Common Defense is a grassroots organization. Because of this, we focus our work on organizing, training, and mobilizing veterans and military families in these districts. We want the whole country to know that the military community is not a political prop to be exploited, and that we don’t endorse an agenda of greed and hate.
Our Endorsed Candidates:
Jess King (16th District of Pennsylvania)
Jess King is a charismatic working mom who has inspired a tidal wave of grassroots support in the small Pennsylvania city of Lancaster and it’s community of small businesses and rural working class voters, including the endorsement by the grassroots organization Lancaster Stands Up. Her field organizing-driven campaign and record-breaking fundraising have demonstrated that her strong progressive populist platform resonates in this community, and that therefore she is the only candidate who can flip this tough, “majority-maker” district by defeating GOP incumbent Lloyd Smucker. She is facing Christina Hartman, the previous candidate who underperformed Hillary Clinton in the district in 2016 by thousands of votes, in the Democratic primary on May 15th.
Jared Golden (2nd District of Maine)
Jared Golden is a Marine Corps veteran who served as an enlisted infantryman in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who currently serves as the Assistant Majority Leader in the Maine state legislature, representing the working class city of Lewiston. His campaign, vowing to fix the rigged economic system, will resonate strongly in the rural and working class communities and help defeat GOP incumbent Bruce Poliquin in this tipping-point “majority-maker” district.
Gina Ortiz Jones (23rd District of Texas)
Gina Ortiz Jones is a fearless progressive, a child of immigrants, and a former Air Force Intelligence Officer who served as a lesbian during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Otiz Jones has constructed an impressive campaign, and is best positioned to energize the grassroots base and defeat GOP incumbent Will Hurd in this hispanic-majority swing district that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. She is facing Blue Dog Coalition-endorsed federal prosecutor Jay Hulings in a primary on March 6th.
Fayrouz Saad (11th District of Michigan)
Fayrouz Saad would be the first Muslim woman ever elected to Congress, and brings a wealth of experience as a community organizer, Detroit city official, and Obama appointee to the Department of Homeland Security. Her strongly progressive platform, compelling personal story, and deep roots in the local community make her the best candidate to win this “majority-maker” open seat left behind by GOP Rep. Dave Trott. She faces off against manufacturing executive Haley Stevens in a primary on August 7th.
Tanzie Youngblood (2nd District of New Jersey)
Tanzie Youngblood is a retired public school teacher and respected leader within this diverse district in southern New Jersey and was featured by Time Magazine as one of the women “Avengers” running for office after marching in the Women’s March. She is a Blue Star mother, whose eldest son is deploying to a hazardous duty assignment with the U.S. Navy this year. As a woman of color and educator, she is exactly the kind of candidate to inspire working people and capture this swing, GOP-held open seat currently occupied by retiring Rep. Frank LoBiondo. Tanzie Youngblood is running in the Democratic Primary against a State Senator who is rated 100% by the NRA, voted against marriage equality, and is anti-choice and anti-immigrant. The primary is on June 5th.
Max Rose (11th District of New York)
Max Rose is an Army veteran who was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan. His extensive experience as a leader for a major network of community health clinics, substance abuse centers, and food pantries gives him the right perspective to serve his diverse, working class community in Staten Island and lower Brooklyn. He also deeply understands the ways we need to improve our broken criminal justice system through his work on the Begin Again program for a former Brooklyn District Attorney. Max Rose is running against GOP incumbent Dan Donovan in this tipping-point “majority-maker” district. Donovan is also facing a GOP primary challenge from Steve Bannon-favorite Michael Grimm.
Mary Matiella (2nd District of Arizona)
Mary Matiella, the daughter of two migrant farm workers in Arizona, has built a long career of public service, including serving as the Chief Financial Officer of the US Forest Service, Assistant Chief Financial Officer at Housing and Urban Development, and being unanimously confirmed by the Senate as Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Comptroller. A longtime Air Force spouse, Mary has deep connections with the military community, and her inspiring progressive platform is the right choice to motivate the grassroots support to flip this swing district being abandoned by GOP Rep Martha McSally.
Randy Bryce (1st District of Wisconsin)
Randy Bryce is an Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker challenging Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. His inspirational campaign has galvanized so much support that he has put the most powerful Republican in Congress in danger of an upset. Randy Bryce doesn’t just say he stands for progressive ideas, he models them, becoming the first campaign in America to unionize his campaign staff.
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (26th District of Florida)
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is an immigrant from a working class background who has dedicated the past 22 years to improving the lives of underserved communities in Miami-Dade, working to expand access to healthcare, and fighting against the impacts of climate change. As the entire nation grapples with the aftermath of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell represents a powerful voice against the corrupt NRA, having lost her father to gun violence. She will be a strong voice in Washington for working families. She faces incumbent GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo in this Democratic-leaning district.
Pam Keith (18th District of Florida)
Pam Keith is a Navy veteran and lawyer who has a platform of justice and equality for all. She is an inspirational woman of color with deep ties to her community, and has strong grassroots support from women and veterans, which will be critical in this swing district represented by incumbent Republican Brian Mast, who is a veteran himself and a close ally of Koch brothers-backed Concerned Veterans for America. Her district, which leans 5% Republican, is demographically one of the oldest and has one of the highest percentages of veterans in the country. Pam Keith is running in the August 28th primary against a wealthy heiress who has not lived in the district in years, but who is backed by the DCCC.
Sam Jammal (39th District of California)
Sam Jammal is a civil rights lawyer, renewable energy advocate, former Congressional staffer, and Obama administration appointee running on a strongly progressive platform. Sam grew up working class as the child of immigrants from the Middle East and South America, and has a keen understanding of the issues facing the different communities in his highly diverse swing district that is now open due to the retirement of GOP Congressman Ed Royce. National coverage of this race has focused on the mudslinging and squabbles between two self-funding multi-millionaires, neither of whom live in the district, and both of whom carry significant baggage that would hurt them in the general election. Sam Jammal has been endorsed by local resistance groups and democratic clubs, and consistently shown up as a member of his community to oppose rolling back sanctuary city protections for immigrants. The multi-party top-two jungle primary will be held on June 5th.
Mad Hildebrandt (2nd District of New Mexico)
Mad Hildebrandt is a Coast Guard veteran and populist progressive, running on protecting the environment and water resources of her large rural district, and expanding healthcare by fighting for Medicare for All. She faces a DCCC-backed former Congressional Staffer in a two-way primary on June 5th in this “tipping-point” district that leans 5% Republican, and could determine control of Congress. This race has received little attention from the national press, but Hildebrandt’s grassroots campaign and policy platform make her the best candidate to flip this seat held by incumbent Republican Steve Pearce.
Alexandra Chandler (3rd District of Massachusetts)
Alexandra Chandler spent a 12-year career as a civilian in U.S. Naval Intelligence, and would be the first Transgender woman ever elected to Congress. Her comprehensive and specific policy platform, particularly on foreign policy and human rights, along with her bold and inspiring vision on healthcare and economic opportunity, make Alexandra stand out from the crowded field of candidates for this safe seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Nikki Tsongas. Alexandra’s grassroots campaign will pay off in the primary election on September 4th.
Edwin Santana (1st District of Virginia)
Edwin Santana is a Marine Corps veteran, second-generation Puerto Rican, and progressive fighting for single-payer healthcare, strengthened public education, and economic opportunity. Edwin’s bold and unapologetic stances on racial justice and ending sexual assault are particularly in line with the values of Common Defense veterans and military families. While Edwin faces a challenge to unseat Republican incumbent Rob Wittman in this district which leans 8% Republican, he is running the people-powered grassroots campaign that can beat the odds. He faces a primary on June 12th.
Amy Vilela (4th District of Nevada)
Amy Vilela is a passionate progressive, who was motivated to run by the death of her daughter due to the failures of the healthcare system. She is a military spouse, married to an immigrant who is currently serving in the Air Force. Her campaign has caught fire, with impressive fundraising, overwhelmingly from small donors, and large numbers of enthusiastic volunteers. Amy has inspired local Common Defense veterans, and represents the best choice to replace retiring Democrat Ruben Kihuen in this Democratic-leaning seat. She faces a primary on June 12th.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (14th District of New York)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is longtime educator, progressive organizer, and service worker who would be the first woman of color to represent this district in the Bronx and Queens, which is 50% Latinx. She faces an uphill battle in her primary challenge to incumbent Democrat Joseph Crowley, who hasn’t faced a primary challenge in 14 years. Her grassroots campaign is gaining traction, however, and her progressive platform is a better representation of the district than the voting record of the incumbent. The primary is on June 26th.
Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana)
Jon Tester is one of the endangered incumbent Democratic Senators up for reelection in states that Donald Trump won. But Tester has consistently demonstrated leadership on many core issues for Common Defense, and been responsive to the progressive veteran and military family community. His votes to end the war in Yemen, against the confirmations of torturer Haspel and warmonger Pompeo, and leadership in vetting the nominees for Secretary of Veterans Affairs demonstrate that Senator Tester shares our values. Common Defense is proud to support Senator Tester, and look forward to working with him in the future on the issues where we disagree, such as the need to protect survivors of sex crimes in the military by passing the Military Justice Improvement Act.
Common Defense is a diverse, grassroots organization of U.S. veterans and military family members who are fighting to preserve the core values we swore to uphold and defend. Together we vow to protect our communities from hate and violence, to serve on the front lines for social, economic, and global justice, and to champion a truly equitable and representative democracy.