By Emelie Rutherford

While defense firms often donate the most money to big-name and incumbent congressional candidates, Lockheed Martin [LMT] employees contributed the most this past election cycle to an unsuccessful national political novice: Chris Myers, a company vice president and Navy veteran.

Myers, the Republican mayor of Medford, N.J., on Tuesday lost his bid for New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district House seat to Democratic state senator John Adler. Lockheed Martin is the district’s main employer, and the company fared well under incumbent Rep. Jim Saxton (R-N.J.), the ranking member on the House Armed Services Air and Land Forces subcommittee who is retiring after nearly a quarter century in Congress.

Lockheed Martin employees donated at least $120,000 to Myers through Oct. 15, according to a Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) analysis of donations of at least $200. That’s more than company personnel gave to all other congressional candidates up to mid-October, including House Appropriations Defense subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.), who received $19,000, and his former Senate counterpart Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who collected $30,000 from company employees, according to the CRP data.

Even with his colleagues’ largesse, though, Myers still came up short in fundraising, netting $1.1 million as of mid-October, compared to Adler’s $2.6 million.

Myers had Saxton’s endorsement and support on the campaign trail from President Bush and former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. Yet Adler started his campaign earlier and had strong party and labor backing that boosted his war chest in the elections that resulted in Democratic gains in Congress and the White House. Adler’s top donations included $95,000 from the liberal ActBlue political action committee (PAC) and $11,000 from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, according to CRP.

Myers was seen in the defense industry as being potentially a stronger voice than Adler would be on defense matters and industry interests in Congress. The New Jersey House district also includes Computer Sciences Corporation [CSC], McGuire AFB, and Fort Dix.

Myers was not the only defense contractor to run for Congress. Democrat Gerald Connolly, the director of community relations at SAIC [SAI] and chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in Virginia, beat Republican businessman Keith Fimian in Tuesday’s race for the state’s 11th congressional district seat. Incumbent Tom Davis (R-Va.) is retiring after 14 years on Capitol Hill.

Connolly raised $1.78 million, just over Fimian’s $1.76 million in donations, as of mid-October. SAIC employees together were Connolly’s third-highest type of donor, giving him $19,000 in donations of $200 or more, according to CRP.

In total, Lockheed Martin employees have donated more to political campaigns than any other defense firm’s employees have over the past two decades, according to the CRP’s "heavy hitters" tally of top organizations that donate to candidates.

In the past election cycle, Lockheed Martin personnel donated $2.3 million to candidates, 48 percent to Democrats and 52 percent to Republicans, via donations of $200 or more. After Myers, the next four top congressional recipients of Lockheed Martin donations, in order, were: President-elect Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.); GOP presidential nominee and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.); Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee member Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas); and SASC member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), according to CRP.

Boeing [BA] and General Dynamics [GD] also made CRP’s list of 101 political contributing "heavy hitters."

Boeing employees donated $1.7 million in donations of at least $200 during the 2007-2008 election cycle, 56 percent to Democrats and 44 percent to Republicans. Boeing workers’ top congressional donation recipients, in order, were: Obama; former presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.); Stevens; House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.); and McCain, the CRP data shows.

Workers at General Dynamics contributed $1.6 million in donations of $200 or more this past election cycle, with 58 percent going to Democrats and 42 percent going to Republicans. The top recipients in Congress were SASC member Sen. Susan Collins; Murtha; Stevens; HASC member Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.); and former presidential hopeful Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), according to CRP.

Myers had been endorsed by Vets for Freedom, a group that backed candidates who support the war in Iraq.

Veterans elected to Congress for the first time on Tuesday include: Republican Duncan D. Hunter in California’s 52nd congressional district, the seat Hunter’s retiring father has represented; Democrat John Boccieri in Ohio’s 16th congressional district; Democrat Gary Peters in Michigan’s 9th congressional district; Democrat Eric Massa in New York’s 29th congressional district; and Democrat Walt Minnick in Idaho’s 1st congressional district.

Veterans now wrapping up their first terms who were reelected on Tuesday include HASC member Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), a former Navy three-star admiral, and fellow committee member Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress.