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Jason Kander drops out of race for KCMO mayor

Posted at 1:27 PM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 18:52:37-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One of the favorites to become the next mayor of Kansas City, Missouri said Tuesday he is dropping out of the race.

In a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon, Jason Kander cited the need to focus on his mental health as the reason to drop out of the race.

“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 the post.

Kander said he visited the Veterans Affairs hospital Monday to discuss depression and PTSD symptoms.

“I have to stop running, turn around and confront it,” he said in the post.

Kander was considered a front-runner for the office after announcing his candidacy earlier this year, though the field remains crowded with several candidates.

Candidates can still file for the race until Jan. 8, 2019.

Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted his support for Kander shortly after the announcement. 

"By sharing your story, you are saving lives," Biden said in the tweet. "Others will get the help they need because of you." 

Kansas City, Missouri Council Woman Jolie Justus dropped out of the mayor's race when Kander announced he was running.

On Tuesday, Justus said Kander's decision was difficult but courageous and promised support to Kander "in any way that's helpful to him."

"Today is about Jason," she wrote in a statement to 41 Action News. "Obviously Jason's decision changes the dynamics of the upcoming elections in Kansas City."

Fellow council member and mayoral candidate Quinton Lucas said Kander's announcement was profound.

"He's always been a leader and he's shown that even more clearly now," Lucas wrote in a Tweet. "Thank you for telling other veterans - and all of us really - that we don't need to suffer in silence."

Council member and mayoral candidate Jermaine Reed also sent out a statement in support of Kander on Monday.

"Jason Kander is a true American hero whose service to this country goes beyond politics" We will never truly understand the sacrifices that Jason and veterans across Missouri have made on behalf of our great nation. My prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time," Reed said in the statement.

Mayoral candidate Phil Glynn empathized with Kander on Twitter:

Sen. Roy Blunt, who defeated Kander in the 2016 U.S. Senate race, tweeted that it was "important to talk about mental health.

"When people like former Secretary of State Kander are willing to do so, it moves the entire discussion in the right direction," Blunt tweeted. 

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver also tweeted his support, saying that "it took a lot of courage for Jason to come forward and announce his own struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder."