A former Brownback cabinet official who once hosted a soccer-themed TV show launched a campaign for Congress on Thursday.
Antonio Soave, the state’s former secretary of commerce, announced his run for Kansas’ 2nd congressional district in a statement to The Star Thursday afternoon.
“After prayerful consideration with my family, and so much encouragement from the business community in the second district, I believe now is the time to put my experience to work for Kansas,” Soave said in the statement. “I know what it takes to grow jobs, both as a business owner, and from my experience as Secretary of Commerce, recruiting businesses to our state.”
Soave has had a diverse career that included a stint playing semi-professional soccer in Italy in the 1980s, an internship in the Reagan White House, hosting a soccer travel show broadcast throughout the Middle East and running a consulting business in Overland Park. He once filmed a commercial with Danny DeVito as a part of a campaign to promote peace in the Middle East and published a soccer-themed romance novel in 1998.
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The Star had previously reported that Soave was seeking input on a possible bid for the seat, which is will become vacant when U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Topeka Republican, steps down at the end of this term. Soave headed up the Kansas Department of Commerce from late 2015 until June of this year and played a key role in luring the American Royal from Missouri to Kansas.
He’ll join a crowded Republican field that includes state Sens. Steve Fitzgerald and Caryn Tyson; state Rep. Kevin Jones; and Basehor City Councilman Vernon Fields. If he wins the primary, Soave could face off against Brownback’s 2014 Democratic opponent, Paul Davis, in the general election.
“We live in a world where tyrants have nuclear weapons capable of striking our homeland,” Soave said in his statement. “I have been working in foreign policy for three decades. I know what it takes to keep America safe.”
Soave lives in Olathe, which is outside the district. He has said that he is considering buying a home in the district.
Patrick Miller, a political scientist at the University of Kansas, said Soave not being an elected official has the extra burden of “figuring out who he is and packaging that for voters so they can figure him out.”
“Probably the first thing that might come to one’s mind is ‘Brownback cabinet member,’ ” Miller said. “So that, I think, is probably something that will help shape his image as a candidate.”