8th Congressional District Democratic challenger Darcy Burner has run two ads so far, and both feature her family’s history of military service. Both her father and husband have served in the military, and one of her brothers participated in the initial invasion of Iraq.
I’ve heard some criticism from Reichert boosters that this won’t play in her district… that the service of her family members won’t give Burner the credibility she seeks. But I think these critics are wrong. Every soldier we send overseas leaves a spouse and children and parents and siblings behind. There are many more voters in the 8th District who share Burner’s experience than there are who served in combat. Burner understands the incredible burden this war places on military families, because she comes from one.
Curiously, Burner rarely talks about her own service — the years she spent in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) — even though it was obviously an enormously influential period of her life. Burner started at age 14 and quickly rose through the cadet ranks, becoming the executive officer of the Nebraska wing at age 16, and being named National Cadet of the Year in 1989.
Darryl of Hominid Views was intrigued by this biographical tidbit and has posted a fascinating and candid interview with Burner on the subject. It soon becomes clear that when Republicans criticize her lack of service or leadership experience, they are shooting blanks; Burner displayed extraordinary leadership at a very early age, and it is this experience that gave her many of the skills that have helped her succeed throughout her life.
Her military family background and CAP experience has also given her perspective on politics that I believe explains much of her appeal in a swing district like the 8th:
Most of the members of the Civil Air Patrol that I know are relatively conservative politically