Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of GOP leadership, announced Monday that he will not run for reelection, the latest Republican senator to announce he’s not running next year.
“After 14 general election victories — three to county office, seven to the United States House of Representatives, and four statewide elections — I won’t be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate next year,” Blunt announced in a video message.
The unexpected announcement marks the latest decision not to seek reelection by a pragmatic GOP senator willing to reach across the aisle in the post-Trump era as the Republican Party grapples with its future.
GOP Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Richard Burr of North Carolina have all indicated they do not intend to run for reelection. So far, no Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2022 have announced plans to retire.
Even without an incumbent Republican, the seat isn’t likely to be competitive for Democrats. While Blunt defeated Democrat Jason Kander in 2016 by fewer than 3 percentage points, Missouri is an increasingly Republican state. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill lost by almost 6 percentage points in 2018, and Trump won about 57% of the vote in the Show-Me state in 2020.
Blunt, a close ally of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, has a long history of serving in Congress and a deep understanding of the institution.
He is currently the senior senator from Missouri and was elected to the Senate in 2010.
Blunt serves in a leadership role as the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee and serves as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Rules Committee, a position that gives him a great deal of behind-the-scenes power and influence into the inner workings of the chamber.
As the top Republican on the Rules Committee, Blunt worked with his Democratic counterpart, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, to reform how Congress handles sexual harassment issues among its own employees.
While Blunt’s Missouri colleague Sen. Josh Hawley was one of the most outspoken senators in his objections to counting some electoral votes, Blunt didn’t join the effort and played key roles in the formal transition of power as a one of the tellers who read electoral vote certificates on January 6 and as chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
He also previously served in leadership in the House of Representatives.
In his video message, Blunt said, “In every job Missourians have allowed me to have, I’ve tried to do my best. In almost 12,000 votes in the Congress, I’m sure I wasn’t right every time, but you really make that decision based on the information you have at the time.”
There are a number of potential GOP candidates for Blunt’s seat, including US Reps. Ann Wagner and Jason Smith, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and former Gov. Eric Greitens.
Kehoe tweeted a statement on Monday saying he plans to “spend some time talking with family, friends and supporters about how I can best contribute to the future of our great state.”
Wagner also said in a statement that she plans “to discuss with my family what the future holds for me in the coming days.”
A Missouri Republican strategist told CNN that Schmitt is “very likely” to run for Senate in 2022 and is gauging “interest among his supporters.”
The strategist predicted “a big knockdown, epic battle” between Schmitt, who considered a Senate campaign in 2017 before Hawley jumped in, and Greitens, who had already expressed an interest in running against Blunt. Greitens resigned from office in 2018 after the state legislature called a special session to consider impeaching him over allegations of sexual misconduct and campaign finance violations. A Missouri state panel “found no evidence of any wrongdoing” following an 18-month investigation into the allegations.
“The Missouri Republican Party is grateful that we have such a deep bench of strong conservatives that are willing to step forward and serve the people of Missouri,” Charlie Dalton, Missouri GOP executive director, told CNN. “In August of next year, the voters will have to decide who they feel will best represent them in the Senate and we are looking forward to keeping Senator Blunt’s seat a Republican-held seat that November.”
So far, three Missouri Democrats — former state Sen. Scott Sifton, Marine veteran Lucas Kunce and activist Tim Shepard — have launched 2022 Senate bids. McCaskill and Kander reiterated on Monday that they will not run for the seat.
This story has been updated with additional developments Monday.