‘Checking out’ is not an option, Kander tells supporters
By TIM ROWDEN
The Missouri AFL-CIO endorsed Jason Kander in his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and union volunteers campaigned hard for his election, but in the end it was not enough to stop the Republican wave that elected Donald Trump President and safely secured Blunt’s re-election.
Mike Louis, president of the Missouri AFL-CIO said Kander, Missouri's current secretary of state, had entered the race as long shot candidate and the tight race leading up to Election Day should serve as a wake-up call to Blunt to stand up for working family issues.
“The fact that he almost beat Roy Blunt, shows that Missourians are looking for change,” Louis said. “Hopefully, this is a wake-up call to Senator Blunt. He needs to become a champion for his constituents and stop cow-towing to his lobbyist and big corporate special interest buddies. He needs to fight for Missourians to have a better life, good jobs, decent pay, paid sick days to care for ourselves and our families, equal pay for women doing the same job as men, quality health care, and affordable college education. These are the issues of today, Blunt continuing doing business as usual is not acceptable.”
CHALLENGING THE INCUMBENT
Kander, a 35-year-old Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, received national attention for a TV ad on gun control in which he assembled a rifle while blindfolded. “I’d like to see Senator Blunt do this,” he said in the ad, in which he said he supported expanded background checks. Kander campaigned heavily on his status as a veteran and a Washington outsider.
Blunt, 66, has served in Congress since 1997 and in the Senate since 2011.
Republicans pulled a clean sweep of Missouri’s top elections, and the competition between Kander and Blunt was one with national attention on Election Day. It was also one of the most expensive, topping $61 million in combined spending.
Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for Kander in St. Louis on Oct. 28, calling him a member of the next “greatest generation” the “9/11 Generation” that volunteered for military service after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
But on an Election Night where Trump vastly out-performed expectations, Kander was not able to unseat Blunt, even as polling showed the race at essentially a dead heat in the weeks leading up the Election Day.
‘PICK YOURSELF UP’
Kander was forward looking in his concession speech, and urged his supporters, many of them Millennials, to stay engaged in the political system.
“You’ve got to pick yourself up. That’s what I’m going to do,” Kander told his supporters on Election Night.
Politics doesn’t just happen once every four years, Kander reminded his supporters.
“This country is a place that you’ve got to stay invested in. You don’t get to decide that you are going to be okay with the politics, that you’re going to believe in the politics of this country [only] when it goes your way,” Kander said.
Kander said "checking out" of the political process was not an option.
"This is a generation that is capable of greatness… and it has a lot of work to do," he said.