Jason David Kander, born May 4, 1981, is an American attorney and politician. He was elected Secretary of State of Missouri in 2012 and served a term from 2013 to 2017. He is a Democrat and previously served as a state representative in 2008. He was an intelligence officer and captain in the Army National Guard. Also the Democratic nominee for the United States Senate, Kander lost the 2016 Senate election by a narrow margin to Republican incumbent Roy Blunt.
Kander was born on May 4, 1981, in Overland Park, Kansas. He was raised in a Jewish household. His mother Janet, was a juvenile probation officer and his father Steve, was a police officer who later ran a small business. He graduated from Bishop Miege High School in 1999, and attended American University, where he studied political science. After the September 11 attacks, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. While earning his law degree at Georgetown University, he earned his commission through the University’s ROTC battalion. Kander completed his law degree in 2005 and completed a tour in Afghanistan, where he served as a lieutenant.
Military History of Jason Kander
After completing his tour, Kander took a position as an instructor at the Missouri Army National Guard’s Officer Candidate School at Fort Leonard Wood. In 2010, Kander was named one of 10 finalists for the Army Reserve Association’s Maj. Gen. Strom Thurmond Outstanding Junior Officer of the Year Award. He achieved the rank of captain in 2011.
Political Career of Jason Kander
In 2010, Kander worked with Republican State Representative Tim Flook to pass the first major ethics reform bill in Missouri since 1991. In 2010, he ran for re-election to his State Representative seat and easily won the vote to defeat Republican Sally Miller.
Kander announced his candidacy for the Missouri Secretary of State after Robin Carnahan announced she would not seek reelection. Kander defeated MD Rabbi Alam in the primary election, winning the Democratic nomination. In the general election, Kander faced the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Missouri House, State Representative Shane Schoeller. On November 6, 2012, Kander narrowly defeated Schoeller and was elected Missouri Secretary of State.
On February 19, 2015, Kander entered the race to represent Missouri in the United States Senate against Roy Blunt, the Republican incumbent. He won the Democratic primary against three other candidates on August 2, 2016. Kander’s campaign momentum surged when he released an ad in September that showed the blindfolded senatorial candidate assembling an AR-15 rifle while explaining his support of background checks. The ad campaign went viral, and as of November 2016 the original YouTube video had garnered over 1.3 million views. Originally, Kander was well behind in the race to the Senate seat, but polls started to show a tightening. Kander was a national co-chair for Hillary Clinton. During the campaign, Kander positioned himself as a Washington outsider and touted his experience as an Army Intelligence officer. He was endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Kander was narrowly defeated by Blunt in the general election, receiving 46.4% of the vote to Blunt’s 49.2%.