There is no single reason why Democrats managed to win control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections, and insofar as there is a key reason, it is of course that Republicans were on the defensive with President Donald Trump in the White House.
But another key reason is that Democrats beat the GOP at their own patriotism game. 19 Democratic candidates targeting Republican House seats last year were veterans; among the winning candidates with a military or intelligence background were Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Andy Kim and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Max Rose (D-NY), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), and Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA).
Flash forward to today. Democrats are now targeting the Senate in 2020, and, as Axios notes, their strategy is much the same.
Among the high-profile veteran and intelligence candidates recruited to the Senate so far are Mark Kelly, a Desert Storm Navy pilot and commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavour running against Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ); Cal Cunningham, a decorated U.S. Army major who served in Iraq running against Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC); and Dan Baer, a U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) running against Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).
Democrats are also re-running some of their veteran candidates for House seats in 2018 who came close to winning. M.J. Hegar, an Afghanistan USAF veteran and Purple Heart recipient who successfully sued to end the Air Force's policy of excluding women from combat, is challenging Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). And Amy McGrath, a Marine fighter pilot who led bombing missions against al-Qaeda, is taking on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) himself.
Democrats are still considered to be at a disadvantage in the battle for the Senate — while most of the open seats are held by Republicans, the elections are broadly taking place on deeply red turf in an election year when the GOP will turn out in droves for the president. But Democrats have a strategy that carried them to victory in 2018 — and they plan to use it again.