Jason Kander, a rising star within the Democratic Party, has announced he is ending his campaign for Kansas City mayor to seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
“To allow me to concentrate on my mental health, I’ve decided that I will not be running for mayor of Kansas City,” Kander wrote in a post on Medium.
“I truly appreciate all the support so many people in Kansas City and across the country have shown me since I started this campaign. But I can’t work on myself and run a campaign the way I want to at the same time, so I’m choosing to work on my depression,” he continued.
Kander served as an Army Intelligence Officer in Afghanistan and returned from his tour about 11 years ago. He said that his “tour over there still impacted me every day.”
He said he went to the VA in Kansas City Monday and has decided to start getting help there regularly after initially reaching out to the VA about four months ago.
“I’m done hiding this from myself and from the world. When I wrote in my book that I was lucky to not have PTSD, I was just trying to convince myself. And I wasn’t sharing the full picture. I still have nightmares. I am depressed,” Kander said.
Kander’s decision is a stunning retreat from the political arena for a Democrat many party operatives see as among its rising stars.
In 2016, Kander lost a Senate race to incumbent Republican Roy Blunt. But the margin in the race was just 3 percentage points – much closer than expected in a state Hillary Clinton lost by 19 points. He also won plaudits in the race for a television ad that went viral featuring Kander, rebutting attacks over his calls for gun control, assembling an assault rifle while blindfolded.
He then became one of the earliest and most frequent major Democrats to visit early primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa. He impressed Democrats there who saw him representing a generational shift and bringing a Midwestern appeal that Democrats lacked in 2016.
Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state, launched a political action committee called Let America Vote, which put him at the forefront of Democratic efforts to oppose President Donald Trump’s commission to study voter fraud.
He then launched a campaign for Kansas City mayor at a time when several Democratic mayors – Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans and Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana – have been the subject of 2020 presidential buzz.