Combat boots are back in fashion politically, as the Democratic nominee for Missouri secretary of state becomes the second statewide candidate this year to place them center stage in a campaign commercial.
State Rep. Jason Kander (D-Kansas City) says that his experience serving in Afghanistan -- he was told to write his blood type on his Army boots -- shows that he can be a leader for the Show Me State. Kander's ad follows an April commercial by Ohio Republican U.S. Senate nominee Josh Mandel, who made his Marine Corps combat boots the centerpiece of his first ad. Kander is running against state House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller (R-Willard) to succeed retiring Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D).
"To me leadership has been about doing what's right," Kander says in the ad. "If you have had to write your blood type on your boots, you are not afraid to make the tough calls."
Kander joined the Army after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and volunteered to serve in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer. He also made his military background the centerpiece of his first ad in June.
In Mandel's ad, the Ohio state treasurer highlighted his two tours in Iraq and his working-class background, noting the role boots play in both the military and factories. Mandel is challenging Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
Highlighting Iraq and Afghanistan military service has been a common theme with several young elected officials in recent races. In addition to the boot ads from Kander, 30, and Mandel, 35, Jersey City, N.J. Councilman Steve Fulop (D), 35, has begun highlighting his Marine Corps service in Iraq in his 2013 campaign to be mayor of New Jersey's second-largest city.
In Missouri, Kander's race for secretary of state has become one of the most competitive, with voter identification and the language of ballot initiatives becoming the top issues. Schoeller has made voter ID laws central to his campaign, with Kander noting his opposition to the requirements. The Missouri Outdoor Advertising Association told HuffPost last month that the $89,300 the organization donated in free billboard space to Schoeller was to help elect a secretary of state who would shape favorable ballot language in the event a referendum is held on the future of billboards.
On his website, Schoeller highlights a July commercial where he touts his support for voter ID laws, including his sponsorship of related unsuccessful legislation. Schoeller, who has said that photo ID cards are needed to drive, get on planes and rent movies, has indicated that he will use the secretary of state's office to pass and implement voter ID legislation in Missouri.
"In today's world, shouldn't we do more to protect the integrity of our elections?" Schoeller says in the July ad.
Schoeller's campaign was not available for immediate comment.
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