U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri on Monday announced that he will not seek re-election to the United States Senate in 2022, when his current term expires.
Blunt, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee and the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, announced his retirement in a video posted on YouTube Monday morning.
“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, 71, said.
He thanked Missourians, both those who supported him and those who didn’t, for the opportunity to “work for you and a better future for our state and country.”
He added: “There is still a lot to do, and I look forward to every day this year and next year as I continue to work for you in the Senate. Another lesson I learned here: Finish strong, and I intend to. Thanks for giving me the chance to work for you.”
Blunt is the fifth incumbent Republican senator to announce his retirement from the Senate ahead of the 2020 midterm elections. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) all announced this year they would not seek re-election to the Senate. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in 2016 while campaigning for re-election that he would not run again in 2022.
Additionally, 87-year-old Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) are reported to be considering retirement.
This wave of retirements comes ahead of a difficult election year for the GOP minority in the Senate. In 2022, there are 14 seats held by Democrats and 20 held by Republicans on the ballot. The statewide races in Pennsylvania, which former President Donald Trump lost by 1.17 percentage points, and North Carolina, which Trump won by 1.3 points, will be battleground Senate races, as Democrats need to claim just one more seat for an outright majority. Republicans will be on defense, and now five of their incumbents will not be candidates for re-election.
Those open Senate seats will invite contested Republican primaries by several candidates who will all compete for Trump’s endorsement. The former president has promised to be active in Republican primaries, already releasing a slew of 2022 endorsements for GOP office holders he deemed support his “America First” agenda.
According to the Kansas City Star, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick, and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe are all proven statewide election winners and viable candidates for the Republican Senate nomination.
The scandal-plagued former Gov. Eric Greitens, who reportedly cheated on his wife, took pictures of his mistress without her consent, and attempted to blackmail her into silence, has also expressed interest in making a political comeback by running for Senate.
Former President Donald Trump carried Missouri by 15.4 percentage points in the 2020 election, so his endorsement could carry weight in the Senate primary.
Blunt was first elected to the Senate in 2010, defeating his Democratic opponent by 13.6 percentage points. He won re-election in 2016 by 2.8 points, defeating Democrat Jason Kander. He began his political career as a county clerk in Greene County, Missouri, later served as secretary of state, then was elected to serve in the United States House of Representatives from 1996 to 2008.