Jason Kander
Washington CNN  — 

Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has been traveling to early primary states, hiring staff members and getting to know national Democrats all in preparation for a run for …. mayor of Kansas City.

The former Army captain announced his run for mayor of the city he previously represented in the state Legislature on Sunday, saying this position, as opposed to running for president in 2020, gives him the best opportunity to serve.

“The next mayor has the opportunity to shape the future of Kansas City for generations,” Kander said in a campaign news release. “I’m running because I am up for that challenge.”

“Kansas Citians deserve a mayor who can guide the progress already underway in our city and help us reach the next level,” Kander added.

“I’m eager to take the reins on major issues that have developed in recent years – like building the new airport, implementing the infrastructure improvements voters approved through the GO Bonds, and expanding the streetcar. And I want to make sure we continue addressing critical issues like economic inequality, crime, inclusive housing and economic development, and access to a quality education for every child in the city.”

Kander has been rising in the political ranks since he nearly beat Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt in 2016.

After President Donald Trump was elected, Kander launched a national organization named Let America Vote, which targets voter suppression and gerrymandering across the country. His trips around the country promoting the organization, opening field offices in early primary states and hiring staff members to ramp up the on-the-ground organization led to much speculation about Kander perhaps running for president in 2020.

“While running Let America Vote, I was also considering the best way to serve,” Kander said. “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.”

Kander has made 16 trips to Iowa and 12 to New Hampshire, and has met with prominent Democrats in Nevada and South Carolina. He opened Let America Vote offices in Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, Tennessee and New Hampshire – key states with competitive 2018 races and important 2020 primaries. These moves brought about much speculation about his future.

Kander also met with Barack Obama this year, a Democrat close to the former president told CNN. Obama has been meeting with several Democrats who are considering running for president in 2020, offering them advice on running in the Trump era and discussing how to position the party going forward.