WASHINGTON — With control of Congress up for grabs on election night, we’ll be tracking the evolving news and defense policy ramifications here throughout the evening on Tuesday.
This year’s midterm contests include 172 veterans who won primaries seeking congressional office and 59 members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees trying to hold onto their seats.
The first polls close at 6 p.m. Refresh this page throughout the night for the latest updates and insights from our politics reporters.
1:10 a.m. (JG) --
11:54 p.m. (JG) --
11:20 p.m. (LS) -- In one of the biggest upsets of the night, Oklahoma Republican Rep. Steve Russell lost his re-election bid despite running in a district which President Donald Trump won easily two years ago.
Russell, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, was a vocal junior member of the House Armed Services Committee, often injecting his own military experience into policy debates.
11:14 p.m. (LS) -- Afghan War veteran Dan Crenshaw, who found himself the subject of national headlines after his combat injury was mocked on Saturday Night Live, won his bid for the Texas 2nd District congressional seat on Tuesday.
Background on his candidacy and the comedy show controversy is here.
11:05 p.m. (LS) --
10:53 p.m. (LS) -- Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., and the ranking member on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, has won his race to be governor of Minnesota.
Walz, a retired Army command sergeant major who was the highest-ranking former enlisted member of Congress, now becomes only the second governor to have served in the military during the Iraq and Afghanistan War eras. Walz served in Europe in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
10:40 p.m. (JG) -- CNN projects Democrat Elaine Luria, a former Navy commander, will unseat Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., and a former Navy SEAL.
10:33 p.m. (JG) -- Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and a member of the SASC defeats HASC member Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas. It’s one of the most closely watched races of this cycle, and a tough beat for Democrats who came within striking distance of a Republican in reliably red Texas. With that, CNN projects GOP will hold the Senate, as expected.
10:03 p.m. (LS) -- Former Navy helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill becomes the first new female veteran to win a seat in Congress tonight, flipping New Jersey’s 11th district from Republican control.
Coming into tonight, only four women veterans were serving in the House or Senate: Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Arizona Rep. Martha McSally and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. With Gabbard expected to win, Sherill’s election at least guarantees that number will not drop (McSally is in a close contest for the open Arizona Senate seat). But several other key races are still open, and could push that number even higher next year.
9:59 p.m. (JG) -- Per CNN, Democratic challenger has defeated Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., the HASC Military Personnel Subcommittee chair, a Veterans Affairs Committee member and a key foe of Trump’s proposed Space Force. The challenger, Jason Crow, also opposes Space Force, but he’s not a senior HASC member.
9:42 p.m. (LS) -- The Virginia 2nd District race, one of a handful of veteran-versus-veteran congressional contests, is coming down to the wire. Right now Democratic challenger (and Navy vet) Elaine Luria is leading Republican incumbent (and Navy vet) Scott Taylor by a few thousand votes. The district, which has a heavy veteran voting block and a significant military presence, has seen more national security discussion on the campaign trail than most.
9:36 p.m. (JG) -- Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Donnelly loses his seat, per multiple outlets. It’s a big loss for Democrats, who look like they will lose a seat in the Senate. He is also the top Democrat on the SASC’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee.
9:22 p.m. (LS) -- Greg Pence, Marine Corps vet and brother of Vice President Mike Pence, easily won election to Indiana’s 6th District tonight.
9:13 pm (JG) -- A failed candidate for Army secretary, Mark Green, has won a House seat in Tennessee. Green, a Republican, was President Trump’s second nominee for the post, but he withdrew amid scrutiny of his remarks about homosexuality and transgender rights connected to his work as a Tennessee state senator.
8:59 pm (JG) -- AP calls for New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, ranking Democrat on Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A key figure on oversight of US arms sales abroad, he has also become a central figure in Congress’s pressuring of the Trump administration on Saudi Arabia’s conduct in the Yemen civil war.
8:48 p.m. (LS) -- Multiple news outlets are now calling the Kentucky 6th district race for Republican Andy Barr, a blow to Democratic hopes of grabbing a deep red district.
Democrat Amy McGrath, a former Marine Corps pilot who flew missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, had drawn national attention and significant financial backing in the race. But in the end, her bid fell short by just a few thousand votes, and Republicans held onto the seat.
8:39 pm (JG) -- No surprise that House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, has won reelection. One big question is whether he will remain chairman or whether Democrats will win control of the House. Either way, another question is how Thornberry would approach Trump administration plans to lower the defense budget to $700 billion in fiscal 2020, which would require easing budget caps. It will all depend on the math of the next Congress.
8:31 p.m. (LS) -- We have our first new veteran heading to Congress: Florida Republican Michael Waltz. The Army vet and Fox News contributor was just declared the winner in his 6th District contest.
8:08 pm (JG) -- CNN has called for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and likely contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. She won, among other priorities in the 2019 defense policy bill, a requirement for a public version of the administration’s Nuclear Posture Review—and brought the panel’s top Democrat to visit the General Dynamics facility in Taunton, Mass.
7:40 pm (LS) --
7:08 pm (LS) --
7:05 pm (JG) -- CNN calls Virginia for Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee’s readiness subpanel and a member of the Senate Budget Committee.
He and Republican challenger Corey Stewart took shots at each other over defense budgeting, while Kaine — who represents a defense heavy state — stressed his support for a 355-ship Navy.
6:50 pm (LS) -- A reminder that the Kentucky 6th District race -- a bellwether contest to see if Democrats will make big gains across the country -- includes former Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath. As you watch coverage tonight focused on those results, read up on how she could be part of a wave of female vets heading into Congress.
6:10 pm (LS) -- The first polls are closed and we can report that ... it’s going to be a long night. Counting for some one-sided races will only take a short time, but most of the hotly contested races across the country won’t have final results for several hours.
In the meantime, here’s a review of what changes could happen on the congressional armed services committees if Democrats win control of a chamber tonight.
12:20 pm (LS) -- While we’re waiting for election results to start rolling in, our colleagues over a Fifth Domain have a live blog on cybersecurity issues related to voting today. Department of Homeland Security officials say they have been prepping for two years, and they’ll be providing updates as the day progresses.
Check out their work at the link below:
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.