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Roy Blunt will join former rival Jason Kander to tour KC’s homeless veterans village

Jason Kander (left) debated Sen. Roy Blunt in Branson in 2016.
Jason Kander (left) debated Sen. Roy Blunt in Branson in 2016. The Associated Press

Sen. Roy Blunt will join former election opponent Jason Kander in Kansas City Friday for a tour of the Veterans Community Project.

Blunt, a Missouri Republican, fended off a tough challenge in 2016 from Kander, a Democrat who served one term as Missouri secretary of state.

Blunt’s margin of victory was less than 3 percentage points. The campaigns spent a combined $29 million in a race that was at times personal, with the two foes trading barbs about each other’s families after Kander made an issue of the lobbying careers of Blunt’s wife and children.

But three years later, the two will be appearing together as Kander, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, settles into his new role heading up expansion of the Veterans Community Project, a Kansas City-based nonprofit that is building tiny houses for homeless veterans.

Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is seeking Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election, visited Veterans Community Project together with Mayor-elect Quinton Lucas and former mayoral candidate Jason Kander.

Kander dropped out of the race for Kansas City mayor last year after disclosing that he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His new position as leader of the veterans’ project, announced earlier this month, is his return to public life.

Kander said on Twitter that he appreciates Blunt’s interest in the project and looks forward to showing him around the village it has built. Blunt’s tour follows a recent visit by Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

“The Veterans Community Project is doing incredible things in the Kansas City area. I look forward to touring the village with Jason, learning more about the services they offer, and hearing about what’s ahead for the organization,” Blunt said in an email. “Supporting veterans is, and always should be, a bipartisan priority.”

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Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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