JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Despite his continued support for Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State Jason Kander will not be attending the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week.
Kander, who announced he would be skipping the event because of a scheduling conflict, joins U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt in skipping his party’s national convention. The two will face off in November for Blunt’s seat.
“Due to the number of events we have in Missouri next week, Jason won’t be able to make it to the convention,” said Kander spokesperson Anne Feldman. “He was looking forward to supporting Missouri’s delegates in Philadelphia but will make sure to catch up with them when they come home.”
“There are Missourians who are delegates to the convention,” Kander said at the time. “I’m going to go and support them.”
While Kander is now skipping the event, it doesn’t appear to be a distancing from Clinton, who would be the most unpopular major party nominee ever if not for her opponent Donald J. Trump.
One key factor in Clinton’s unpopularity has been an email scandal where she did business as secretary of state on private servers. Earlier this month, the FBI released the critical results of a probe into Clinton’s use of the server.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” said James Comey, director of the FBI, about the investigation.
Blunt has sought to tie Kander to Clinton over the scandal.
— RoyBluntMO (@RoyBluntMO) July 13, 2016
While the probe damaged Clinton’s credibility in some polls, Feldman reiterated Kander’s support for the nominee.
“This was purely a scheduling decision, nothing more, as Jason attended an event with Secretary Clinton in St. Louis just last week and looks forward to her fighting for Missouri’s 10 electoral votes this fall,” she said.
At that St. Louis fundraiser, Kander said Clinton earned his respect when he was serving in Afghanistan, where he served in the intelligence division.
“I want to make sure that the next president is someone who is ready to be commander-in-chief from day one and keep this country safe,” he said about Clinton. “Secretary Clinton understands that America is at its best when our middle class is at its strongest and that’s why I’m with her.”
For the last two quarters, the candidates have been neck-and-neck in fundraising. Kander beat Blunt for the last time in April while Blunt outraised Kander $2.3 million to $1.75 million in July quarterly reports released last week.
Missouri candidates have a history of missing the national convention. Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill skipped the Democratic National Convention in 2012 when she was running for re-election.
Both Kander and Blunt have been spending more time campaigning in Missouri as polling shows the race tightening. Public Policy Polling showed the race within the margin of error at an event in St. Louis last week. At the same time, the poll showed Trump leading Clinton by 10 percentage points in the state. The PPP poll from Blunt’s 2010 election was 10 points off from the final election results.