/Roy Blunt Retiring; Missouri GOP Senator Wont Run for Re-election in 2022

Roy Blunt Retiring; Missouri GOP Senator Wont Run for Re-election in 2022

Roy Blunt speaks next to Mitch McConnell at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Photographer: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Bloomberg

Missouri GOP Senator Roy Blunt said Monday he won’t seek a third term in the 2022 election, bringing to five the number of Republicans who aren’t seeking re-election next year as the party tries to regain control of the Senate.

Blunt, 71, is a member of the Republican leadership team in the Senate and a close ally of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“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 re-election to the United States Senate next year,” Blunt said in a video statement.

Blunt didn’t detail why he decided to leave the Senate, but said he is proud of his work on issues including health research, job creation, and national defense.

Blunt joins four other Senate Republicans who have announced they will not run next year — Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

Blunt’s decision comes amid the potential for deep splits within the party as Senate races take shape, with McConnell seeking to recruit senators he sees as most likely to win seats while former President Donald Trump is gearing up his own political operation aimed at supporting GOP lawmakers who’ve been most loyal to him — and supporting primary challengers to others.

Trump has begun endorsing incumbent senators who are up for re-election, including Tim Scott of South Carolina and John Kennedy of Louisiana. At the same time, he is threatening to push out Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who often works with Democrats and has been critical of Trump. He also has criticized John Thune of South Dakota, another member of McConnell’s leadership team.

McConnell in a statement called Blunt “a true leader, a policy heavyweight and a driving force” in both bipartisan and more conservative GOP-only legislation.

“Senator Blunt has tackled so much important work for Missouri and our country and has been an enormous asset to all his colleagues,” McConnell said. “I’m very sorry he’ll be stepping away but am glad the country has two more years to keep benefitting from his talent.”

Former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens said in a Missouri radio interview last week that he was weighing a primary challenge to Blunt, whom he said was “siding with Mitch McConnell” and criticizing Trump.

Greitens was governor from 2017 to 2018. He resigned amid a special session of the state Legislature to consider impeaching him after he was indicted on felony charges of computer tampering. The charges were dropped.

Blunt won his last election by 2.8 percentage points over Democrat Jason Kander and two third-party candidates. Kander said Monday that he doesn’t intend to run again.

There are 14 Democrat-held Senate seats on the ballot in 2022, compared with 20 now controlled by Republicans.

Blunt’s departure is another blow to the party’s establishment wing. He has served in the GOP leadership in both chambers, including years as the House Republican whip. He is currently the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the No. 4 leadership post. He also is the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee and is a senior appropriator.

He earlier served for 14 years in the House and was deputy whip and then GOP whip. When former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was indicted in 2005, he became acting majority leader but then lost an election for the job to Representative John Boehner of Ohio.

— With assistance by Steven T. Dennis

(Adds other GOP senators who are retiring in fifth paragraph, McConnell comment in ninth paragraph.)

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