Jason Kander, Missouri's Democratic secretary of state who is running to take Republican Roy Blunt's U.S. senate seat, released a new ad this week calling for background checks while protecting the basis of the Second Amendment.
The Washington Post and others are ranking the new 30-second spot among the best commercials of this election season.
Kander is a former Army captain who served in Afghanistan, according to his official campaign website. In the video, he is seen standing in the middle of an empty warehouse. The sunlight drifting in from open doors and windows behind him provides the primary source of lighting. He's wearing jeans and an Oxford shirt. And a blindfold.
A disassembled AR-15 rifle lies on a plain brown table before him. As he starts his pitch for why voters concerned with gun control should choose him, he simultaneously begins reassembling the rifle — while still blindfolded.
"I'm Jason Kander, and Senator Blunt has been attacking me on guns," Kander says in the opening lines of the commercial. "Well, in the Army, I learned how to use and respect my rifle."
Kander continues snapping pieces of the firearm into place as he speaks.
"In Afghanistan I volunteered to be an extra gun in a convoy of unarmored SUVs. And in the state legislature, I supported Second Amendment rights. I also believe in background checks so that terrorists can't get their hands on one of these."He ends the ad with something of a challenge to Blunt.
"I approve this message because I'd like to see Senator Blunt do this," he says, removing the blindfold and nodding at the fully reassembled AR-15 he holds in his hands.
Missouri Democrat Jason Kander just dropped the mic on gun control with the most fire political ad I've ever seen: https://t.co/dYqO0QOfhuThe ad comes in response to criticism of Kander from the NRA and Blunt.
— Charlotte Moore (@cavaticat) September 18, 2016
"It's 4 a.m., and something's not right," says a woman narrating an anti-Kander NRA commercial that opens with shots of a woman sleeping alone. An intruder then bursts through the front door of her home.
"You have a right to protect your home with a firearm," the ad continues. "But local politician Jason Kander voted against your right... How could you trust him in Washington?"
The ad sites Kander's vote on a 2009 Missouri House of Representatives bill as evidence that he is weak on Second Amendment rights.
Gun control is a hot-button issue in Missouri, which leans Republican.
"Missouri politics is all guns, all the time" University of Missouri political science professor Peverill Squire told USA Today, adding that gun control had also been a point of contention in the gubernatorial race between Democrat Chris Koster and Republican Eric Greitens.
In that race, the NRA broke with tradition to endorse Koster, the Democrat, USA Today notes.
"Given the blurring of NRA support in the gubernatorial campaign, Kander's ad may help blur the lines in the US Senate race as well," Squire told USA Today. "This ad is different with an unexpected twist, and that may help it capture viewer attention among the seemingly endless number of attack ads we are seeing."
Watch This Politician Create the Ultimate Gun Control Ad: Jason Kander, a Senate candidate in Missouri, respo... https://t.co/CSL6N7evMYThe race between Kander and Blunt has tightened in recent weeks, with a recent Emerson College Polling Society poll giving Kander a two-point lead over the incumbent Blunt.
— dinil (@dinilkannur) September 16, 2016
Reviewing Kander's ad for The Washing Post, Peter W. Stevenson writes, "This may be the best ad of the election so far."
Jeff Singer at the Daily Kos agrees, calling the ad "one of the best we've ever seen."
Even Adweek chimed in, asking "Did this Missouri Democrat just make the best campaign ad of the 2016 election?"
"Indeed, this is the kind of spot that can swing a race," Adweek's Tim Nudd writes in the article.
[Featured Image by Missourians for Kander/YouTube.com]