Democrats Must Work Harder To Win Military Votes

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Ronnie Shows
Former Democratic Congressman
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      Ronnie Shows

      A native of Moselle, Mississippi, Ronnie was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1998 and served until 2003. He was an active member of the Congressional Blue Dog Caucus and served on the House Finance/Banking Committee. Ronnie is still an active alumni of the Blue Dogs and works closely on a number of initiatives with leaders in the House, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
      Early in his career, Ronnie was an educator, coach and farmer. He was then elected to local office as Circuit Clerk in Jefferson Davis County, MS and later to the Mississippi State Senate for eight years. Ronnie was elected and served for from 1988-1998 as Mississippi State Highway Director.
      Ronnie is a well-liked and well-connected advocate for his clients in Washington and enjoys broad recognition as a respected professional from Democrats and Republicans alike. Additionally, Ronnie has traveled internationally as a select election observer in Africa and Asia. Ronnie and his wife, Johnnie Ruth, enjoy their children and grandchildren from their home in Bassfield, MS.
      Ronnie holds degrees in education and political science from the University of Southern Mississippi.

In the 2004 election, when the Iraq War was at its worst and American service members were being killed and wounded every day due to a poorly managed conflict, President George W. Bush won the military vote by a whopping 16 percentage points over Senator John Kerry, a decorated Vietnam Veteran.

My point is that whether it is fair or not, Republicans have a strong advantage over Democrats when it comes to the voting habits of the American military.

A Military Times poll taken in 2012, during the last major national election, found that almost 44 percent of military voters identify themselves as Republican, while less than 10 percent do the same as Democrats.

Because the military tends to lean Republican, Democrats cannot afford to make mistakes when it comes to dealing with this constituency. This is why some recent news about how our government treats its service members has me concerned – especially as we approach the midterm elections and Republicans are pulling out all the stops to try to take control of the Senate.

One issue, which has not gotten a lot of attention from media, but is creating a problem for our men and women in uniform, was a recent decision by the Obama administration to award a new contract for shipping personal vehicles for military personnel when they are transferred. For some soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines, this transfer might be from Virginia to California, and for others, from Florida to Italy.

Being able to easily drop off a vehicle for shipping before shipping out – and having that vehicle arrive near the next duty station on time and without incident — is critical for the peace of mind of our service members and the day-to-day lives of their families. For many service members, their car or truck is the most valuable thing they own. It means freedom of movement when they get to a new post, the ability to access goods and services off base and transport children. The last thing our men and women in uniform need is a headache of red tape from those charged with transporting their belongings.

This has happened because the Pentagon awarded the contract — to perform these vehicle transportation services — to a company called International Auto Logistics. The fact that this company was created for the sole purpose of performing this service should have sent up some red flags, but it didn’t. They underbid a company called American Auto Logistics, by almost $40 million dollars, which by most accounts did a good job performing these services.

While I fully support efforts to save the American taxpayer money, that always needs to be balanced with assurances that the company getting the contract can actually do the job. There have been complaints by service members about this new company, and Senator David Vitter, of Louisiana, has asked the Pentagon to look into International Auto Logistics and see if they really can do everything they said they could do to win the contract in the first place.