KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who lives in Independence will run for the Democratic nomination to replace Sen. Roy Blunt during the 2022 election cycle.
Maj. Lucas Kunce announced his intention to run on a populist platform, which prioritizes uplifting workers rather than bowing to large multinational corporations, one day after Blunt, a Missouri Republican, announced he would retire rather than seek reelection when his term expires.
“I’m running for the U.S. Senate because Missouri deserves new leadership that will stand up for working people and better-paying jobs,” Kunce said, in part, in a statement announcing his candidacy.
Kunce, who is the first candidate to publicly declare his intentions, attended Yale before joining the Marines, spending tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and assisting with arms control negotiations with NATO and Russia.
He left the Marines after 13 years and went to work for “a non-profit fighting large corporations who use their monopoly power to stick it to the middle class,” Kunce said in a statement announcing his candidacy.
“Missourians are frustrated with Washington because there are so few Senators with life experiences similar to mine or people in the communities I grew up in,” Kunce said. “My parents worked hard and made it until my sister’s illness caused them to go bankrupt from medical bills. I didn’t just experience the struggles, though. I also experienced the way we took care of each other. “
Kunce, a Jefferson City, Missouri, native and father of two children, lamented the trillions of dollars spent by the U.S. federal government to build up war-torn towns from military campaigns while so many people go domestically struggle through hardship.
“We should have been spending our money, blood, and sweat on towns like St. Joe, St. Louis, and Jefferson City,” Kunce said. “Roy Blunt may be retiring but the interests that have waged war upon the middle class are stronger than ever in Washington. The same companies that Washington worked with to ship jobs and opportunity out of our state for decades are stronger than ever. ... The Marine Corps taught me to fight, to lead, and to organize. The fight is now here in Missouri.”
During his career in the Marines, Kunce, led “escort missions, convoys, and police combat training programs” in Iraq and twice served as “Judge Advocate and South Asia Foreign Affairs Officer with Special Operations Task Forces” in Afghanistan.
He later worked as an international negotiations officer at the Pentagon.
Transitioning to civilian life, Kunce has worked as director of national security at the American Economic Liberties Project, a nonprofit that battles corporate monopolies.
His work on a range of subjects, including the threats carbon emissions and Wall Street play to national security and how corporate monopolies impact the military, has been published in The New York Times, The American Prospect and The American Conservative.
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe released statements Monday, which indicated they will weigh running for the Republican nomination.
Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas also released a statement that didn't rule out a Senate bid, but two prominent Missouri Democrats, Jason Kander and Claire McCaskill, released statements that they would not run for the office.