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EXCLUSIVE — VoteVets, a PAC focused on defense policy and electing veterans to public office, has backed Lucas Kunce for U.S. Senate.

Kunce is a Marine veteran who has been outspoken about the situation in Afghanistan over the past few weeks as the U.S. withdrew and the Taliban took control. He has critiqued “institutional dishonesty” related to the war in Afghanistan and said the U.S. needed to end the expensive war sooner.

“Lucas Kunce has seen two wars, up close and personal, and it’s likely why he speaks so bluntly and honestly about them and so much more,” Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets PAC, said. “People say Missouri isn’t territory that a Democrat can win. We disagree. It’s still the state of Harry Truman. It’s still the state that wants its representatives to talk straight to them and take that straight talk to Washington.”

“Lucas Kunce embodies that. He will absolutely shake up the United States Senate — for the better,” Soltz, an Iraq War veteran, added. “We’re proud to endorse him and look forward to doing all we can to help him win.”

Founded in 2006, VoteVets typically backs progressive candidates for office and is focused on foreign policy and issues that impact veterans. It backed Pete Buttigieg, now the transportation secretary, for president in 2020 and endorsed Justin Aldred for Boone County Commissioner.

“I’m proud to have earned the support of VoteVets and its 1.5 million-member network of supporters dedicated to electing those who’ve served,” Kunce told The Missouri Times. “These past few weeks made it clear how badly we need veterans who are willing to level with the American people and stand up to the political, corporate, and military elites who’ve been stripping our country for parts. VoteVets has helped elect dozens of veterans like me to every level of government, elevating the perspective of those of us who have already put our lives on the line for our country, who know what it takes to get the job done and who are prepared to fight for everyday Americans. Their support will play a critical role as we continue to build a grassroots movement to take back this U.S. Senate seat for the people of Missouri.”

Kunce is one of a handful of Democrats vying for the seat that will be left open by Senator Roy Blunt who has decided not to run for re-election. Multiple Republicans, including Congressman Billy Long, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, attorney Mark McCloskey, and former Gov. Eric Greitens have also launched bids for the seat.

Kunce, who is originally from Cole County, served in Afghanistan and Iraq and has represented the U.S. in arms control negotiations with NATO and Russia, according to his campaign. His platform is focused on economic issues, and he is the director of national security for the nonprofit Economic Liberties Project.

In a previous interview with The Missouri Times, Kunce was critical of “forever wars” and the amount of money spent on the war in Afghanistan.

“When I talk to people, I talk about how I watched our country spend $6.4 trillion in these forever wars building up Iraq and Afghanistan, building up efforts that won’t succeed, but we don’t spend that money here to build up our infrastructure,” Kunce said. “It’s based on a series of lies. For decades, people have been saying we’ve been winning this war, that it was worth fighting, it was worth the investment. It wasn’t. This isn’t a surprise; this is a grim reality that we all expected to happen.”

The Biden administration’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal has garnered criticisms from both sides of the aisle, particularly after 13 U.S. troops were killed.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.

Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.

She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.

Contact Kaitlyn at kaitlyn@themissouritimes.com.

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