Missouri secretary of state to challenge Blunt for Senate

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, announced Thursday he’ll seek his party’s nomination to challenge Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntCongress strikes deal on bill for sexual harassment cases involving lawmakers The Year Ahead: Pressure mounts on election security as 2020 approaches Pressure builds as Pelosi, Schumer, Trump meet over border wall demands MORE (R-Mo.) in 2016.

Kander is launching his bid with an impressive show of support — he already has the backing of all the Democratic statewide elected officials in Missouri, including Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon.

“There is no stronger candidate in Missouri to take on Senator Blunt than Jason Kander. And no one better to fight on behalf of Missouri's working families,” McCaskill said in a statement.
 

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Kander also has the support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"Jason’s experience serving his country in Afghanistan and as a U.S. Army Captain, and his time in the General Assembly and Secretary of State’s office leaves him well equipped to fight for Missouri’s middle class against Washington D.C.’s powerful special interests," said its chairman, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), in a statement. "Missouri deserves a Senator who will put politics aside, and work with both parties to do what’s best for their state, and I know that’s what Jason Kander will do in Washington. I look forward to supporting his campaign and working with him in the U.S. Senate.”

Kander has an impressive personal story to tell that he highlighted in a video on his website announcing his candidacy. He served as an Army intelligence officer at U.S. Central Command’s Intelligence Division before he volunteered to go to Afghanistan in 2006.

“I learned my calling on 9/11 when I was in college,” Kander says in the video. “After the planes hit the towers I knew I had to do something and it led me to enlist.”

Upon his return, Kander spent time in the Missouri Legislature before being elected as secretary of state.

Kander took a shot at Blunt in his video.
 
“Missouri has a senator who has been in Washington for 20 years and who has been running for one political office after another for over 40 years,” Kander said. “For too long he’s been part of the problem, voting to shut down the Senate, block economic progress, and block good ideas just because they come from someone in the other party. We can’t change Washington if we don’t change the people we send there. I believe it’s time for a new generation of leaders who’ve come of age at a time of unprecedented challenges and threats to our country, and who are committed to bringing people together and doing what’s right no matter what the personal cost.”

Blunt is serving his first term in the Senate after having spent more than a decade in the House. He’s viewed as a centrist and will be a formidable incumbent with more than $2.2 million in cash on hand already. He has said publicly he intends to run for reelection but has not yet officially announced.

Republicans are firing back at Kander, saying that the 33-year-old is getting ahead of himself.

"Barely halfway through his first term as Secretary of State and Democrat Jason Kander is already bored with his job,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in a statement. “Kander is your typical, overly ambitious, politician who refuses to tell you that he’s a Democrat who supports ObamaCare or that his legislative record as a tax-and-spend liberal aligns perfectly with President Obama and Governor Nixon's agenda.”

The Missouri Republican Party is calling Kander “out of touch and short on experience.”

“Just two years into statewide office, Kander has tried doing everyone’s job but his own and can’t wait to get to Washington to continue the decline the Obama agenda has started,” outgoing Chairman Ed Martin said in a statement. “Kander will be a fighter for ObamaCare, Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesty, job-killing regulations and crippling environmental policies. One Claire McCaskill in Washington is too many; Missouri families and workers cannot afford another vote in support of Obamacare and the rest of the liberals’ failed big government agenda.”

Missouri has backed the Republican presidential candidate in each of the last four presidential cycles. Many believed that McCaskill was vulnerable to a Republican challenger in 2012, but she cruised to victory over gaffe-prone former Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.).