Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, announced on Monday that he won’t run for reelection in 2022 — marking the latest high-profile retirement for Senate Republicans.
“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 said in a video.
Blunt, 71, said that he will finish out his current term, which runs through 2022. Blunt was first elected to the Senate in 2010 and previously served 14 years in the House, where he was also a member of GOP leadership.
He’s the fifth Senate Republican expected not to seek reelection next year.
Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) have all announced that they will retire at the end of their current term. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has also previously indicated he won’t run for reelection.
Grassley, 87, has told reporters that he’ll make a decision this fall. Johnson, who had previously made a vow to only run for two terms, said last week that leaving office after 2022 was “probably my preference now.”
Republicans only need to pick up one seat next year to win back the majority. But they are defending a total of 20 seats, compared to 14 for Democrats, including two seats in states that President Biden won: Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Though Democrats have been able to historically win Senate seats in Missouri, the state has swung hard toward Republicans and will likely start out as a safe Republican seat. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) defeated the state’s most recent Democratic senator, Claire McCaskill, in 2018 and former President Trump won nearly 57 percent of the vote last year.
Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who came within three points of Blunt in 2016, indicated on Monday that he will not run for the seat.
“Regarding the Senate in ‘22: Always nice to be asked. Thanks. My decision not to run was never about who I’d run against. I’m the President of @VCP_HQ and we’re building campuses for vets around the USA. Love this work, don’t want a new job. I’ll campaign for the Dem nominee!” Kander tweeted shortly after Blunt’s announcement.
McCaskill also took herself out of the running Monday, saying on Twitter that, “I will never run for office again.”
Blunt’s retirement marks the latest blow for the institutionalist wing of the Senate GOP caucus, which has lost several members in recent election cycles. Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) and Pat Roberts (Kan.) — committee chairmen known for their ability to cut deals — have retired over the past two cycles.
Shelby, Blunt, Portman and Burr are also all ranking members of Senate committees, with their decisions to retire likely to set off a game of musical chairs among Senate Republicans for the plum positions. Blunt’s decision is a shift from as recently as late January, where he seemed to indicate that he was likely to run for reelection.
“I’m planning to run but I haven’t made an announcement on that yet. I’ll wait for my announcement to officially decide what I’m going to do,” he told reporters at the time.