Jason Kander, who splashed onto the national political scene with an ad showing him assembling an AR-15 while blindfolded, is running for office again. But not for the presidency, in 2020, as had been rumored by political observers for some time.
On Monday, the man who almost defeated incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in 2016, announced that he will run for mayor of Kansas City.
“We’ll know Kansas City is at its absolute best when no one feels they have to move from one part of the city to another, or out of town altogether, to live the life they want and deserve,” Kander said in his official announcement. “I’m running for mayor of Kansas City because I want to make sure no matter where you live in the city or how you grew up, you have a chance to build a successful life right here.”
The former Missouri secretary of state had made his plans known to The Kansas City Star over the weekend. Due to his high-profile entrance into the contest, Jolie Justus, a 4th district councilwoman decided to drop out of the race, recognizing that Kander is likely to win.
His campaign announcement included endorsements from former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, Missouri House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty and others.
Since losing the Senate race in 2016, Kander founded an organization called Let America Vote which is dedicated to targeting voter suppression and gerrymandering.
Speculation mounted about potential aspirations for the White House when Kander made frequent visits to Iowa and New Hampshire and hired a former Des Moines Register reporter as his communications director.
“While running Let America Vote, I was also considering the best way to serve,” Kander told the Kansas City Star on Sunday. “Obviously, I was flattered by all the different ideas that people had for me. But the whole time I was thinking about how to impact my community most and whether that was in public office.”
If elected, Kander would be one of the most prominent mayors in the country and his decision to step back helps thin out what will likely be an extremely crowded 2020 Democratic primary field.