Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo. ), a member of the Republican leadership, declared on Monday that he would not seek reelection in 2022, making him the first high-profile Republican to retire.
“I won’t be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate next year after 14 general election wins — three to county office, seven to the United States House of Representatives, and four statewide elections,” Blunt said in a video.
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Blunt, 71, stated that he intends to complete his current term, which lasts until 2022. Blunt was first elected to the Senate in 2010, after spending 14 years in the House of Representatives, where he was also a member of the Republican leadership.
He’s the fifth Republican senator who isn’t expected to run for reelection next year.
Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) have all declared that they would step down at the end of their terms. Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has previously stated that he will not seek reelection.
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) have yet to announce whether or not they will seek reelection.
Grassley, who is 87 years old, has said that he will make a decision this fall. Johnson, who had previously said that he would not seek re-election after his second term, said last week that leaving office after 2022 was “probably my choice now.”
To reclaim the vote, Republicans just need to pick up one seat next year. However, they are defending 20 seats, compared to 14 for Democrats, including two seats in states held by Vice President Joe Biden, namely Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Despite the fact that Democrats have won Senate seats in Missouri in the past, the state has swung heavily in favor of Republicans and will most likely start out as a secure Republican position. In 2018, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) defeated the state’s most recent Democratic representative, Claire McCaskill, and former President Trump received nearly 57 percent of the vote.
Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who came within three points of Blunt in 2016, announced his withdrawal from the race on Monday.
“Regarding the Senate in 22: It’s always a pleasure to be questioned. Thank you. It was never about who I’d be up against when I decided not to race. I’m the President of @VCP HQ, and we’re putting together campuses for vets all over the country. I enjoy my work and am not looking for a new role. I’m going to vote for the Democratic candidate!” Kander responded to Blunt’s announcement with a tweet.
McCaskill also announced her withdrawal from the race on Monday, writing on Twitter, “I will never run for office again.”
Blunt’s retirement is the latest setback for the Senate GOP’s institutionalist wing, which has lost many members in recent elections. For the past two terms, committee chairmen Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), and Pat Roberts (Kan.) — all known for their willingness to make deals — have retired.
Shelby, Blunt, Portman, and Burr are all ranking members of Senate committees, and their retirements are likely to spark a musical chairs battle among Senate Republicans for the top jobs. Blunt’s decision is a departure from his comments in late January, when he seemed to be indicating that he would run for reelection.
“I want to race, but I haven’t made any formal announcements about it. I’ll wait for my announcement before deciding what I want to do “At the moment, he told reporters.