A Democratic candidate for Missouri secretary of state is making his experience as an Afghanistan war veteran the centerpiece of his first ad in the race.
State Rep. Jason Kander (D-Kansas City) debuted the YouTube ad -- entitled "Courage" -- on his website and via Twitter Thursday morning. The two-and-a-half minute ad highlights his military accomplishments and features commentary from Kander and two Army colleagues.
"I've stood up for my country and been in a place that's really dangerous," Kander said in the ad. "We talk a lot about political courage here at home, but I've been in a place where you had to have real courage to get up and go to work each day. So as a result it had made it easy for me in public service to make what people call the hard decisions."
Kander, who announced his candidacy minutes after Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) announced her retirement last year, has garnered the support from the state's Democratic establishment. He is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary for the secretary of state's office, facing off against businessman MD Rabbi Alam.
Kander -- who co-founded a Democratic PAC, Heartland Democrats of America with his wife, Diana, in 2005 -- used the ad to tie his Afghanistan experience in with ethics reform, his signature issue in the state legislature. In his four years in office, Kander has pushed new ethics and campaign laws in state government, despite many of them failing due to a Republican-controlled legislature.
"When I came home after having investigated corruption in Afghanistan, I looked at a state government where people here in Missouri felt like, I felt like they were losing faith in their government," Kander said in the ad. "Too much partisanship, not enough leadership."
Kander, who said in the ad he joined the military in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks, is not the first political candidate to highlight his recent military experience.
Several current and former members of Congress from both parties have used Iraq and Afghanistan as parts of their campaign advertisements. Kander's story bares similarity to New Jersey Councilman Steve Fulop (D-Jersey City), who said he enlisted in the Marines after witnessing the September 11 attacks from his office window. He later ran for Congress, unsuccessfully, in 2004 before his 2005 local victory. Fulop, a candidate for Jersey City mayor in 2013, has also made ethics reform one of his top campaign issues.
The Republican primary for the position features a three-way contest between state Rep. Shane Schoeller and state Sens. Scott Rupp and Bill Stouffer.