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Sen. Roy Blunt says he won’t seek reelection

Missouri Republican has served 2 terms in Senate
Posted at 9:25 AM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 15:05:09-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, announced Monday morning he will not run for reelection in 2022.

Blunt, the state’s senior senator, posted the announcement on social media.

“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," the announcement read.

Blunt, 71, was first elected to state office in 1985, serving 12 years as Missouri’s Secretary of State. He later served seven terms representing Missouri’s 7th congressional district beginning in 1997.

After Sen. Kit Bond's retirement, Blunt ran for and won a U.S. Senate seat in 2011. He won re-election in 2016 over Democratic challenger Jason Kander.

"Throughout his years of service to Missourians, Senator Blunt always made Missouri his number one priority and has always done his duty," Missouri GOP Chairman Nick Myers said Monday in a statement. "I look forward to Missouri continuing to benefit from his presence in the US Senate over the next two years."

Blunt’s announcement likely clears the way for a highly competitive Republican primary in 2022 to join Missouri's other senator, Sen. Josh Hawley, in representing the state in the U.S. Senate.

“I want to thank my family and thank the great team that came together to help me work for you," Blunt said in the announcement. “Most importantly, thanks to Missourians, whether you voted for me or not, for the opportunity to work for you and a better future for our state and our country.

“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."

Political strategist Mark Coulter said there will be "a lot of talk and jockeying" related to Blunt's open seat.

"A we go through, something to look at is where the different Republican political operatives line up," Coulter said. "I think a lot of them have multiple candidates they work with who might be interested, so I think you're going to see a very quiet behind the scenes, arm-twisting, arm wrestling as different people jockey to line up to be the next favorite one."

Thomas Ringenberg, a Rockhurst University political science professor, had similar thoughts on Blunt's departure.

"Certainly, it's going to be an opening for the Republican party to decide what the Republican party in Missouri looks like moving forward," Ringenberg said. "Is it more of the Parson and Blunt sort. (Missouri Gov.) Mike Parson and Roy Blunt kind of come from the same Southwest Missouri background, not as antagonistic but certainly supporters of President Trump."

The embattled Hawley, who will become the ranking senator from Missouri after the 2022 election, said: “Roy Blunt has been a Missouri institution. A consummate legislator, Roy has worked tirelessly for the state he loves and has served Missourians with distinction. He and Abby have been true friends to Erin and me and our family. We wish them the very best.”

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft thanked Blunt for his "service to Missouri and our country" on Twitter. He did not rule out running for the seat, saying it was "imperative" for Republicans to hold onto the seat in 2022.

Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe released a similar statement.

Ashcroft's father, John, also served as Missouri's secretary of state. John Ashcroft later became the state's 50th governor, went on to serve in the U.S. Senate and was appointed U.S. Attorney General during President George W. Bush's administration.

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas released a statement Monday afternoon, which didn't rule out the idea of pursing a "statewide position."

I rise each day thinking about how I can best serve the people of Kansas City and Missouri, and I will consider over the next several weeks whether that is in a statewide position — something no African American in Missouri has ever done. Today, I remain focused on leading our City through the COVID-19 pandemic and our economic recovery.

Regardless, Kansas Citians and all Missourians deserve representatives in the U.S. Congress who wake up each day to fight for working families throughout our state, and I thank Congressman Cleaver and Congresswoman Bush for working hard this week to ensure vital relief gets to our communities.
Quinton Lucas, mayor of Kansas City, Missouri

Kander, a veteran who serves as president of the Veterans Community Project, has announced he will not seek the seat.

"Always nice to be asked," Kander said on Twitter. "Thanks. My decision not to run was never about who I'd run against."

Kander dropped out of the race to succeed Sly James as mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, citing his mental health in October 2018.

He said he'll continue to concentrate on the Veterans Community Project's mission of "building campuses for around the USA. Love this work, don't want a new job."

But he did promise to "campaign for the Dem nominee" in his message on Twitter.

Former Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, who lost a 2018 election to Hawley, also announced Monday she will not join the fray to replace Blunt.

"I will never run for office again," McCaskill wrote on Twitter. "Nope. Not gonna happen. Never. I am so happy I feel guilty sometimes."

McCaskill currently works for NBC News and MSNBC as an analyst.

Blunt's contributions to the Kansas City area included several infrastructure projects, including the KC Streetcar expansion and federal funding to replace the Buck O'Neil bridge over the Missouri River.

Last December, Blunt worked with U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver to pass legislation directing the U.S. Treasury to mint a coin to commemorate the Negro Leagues Baseball centennial.

Currently, the U.S. Senate is split 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans with Vice President Kamala Harris taking on an increasingly important role as tiebreaker.

Blunt is the fifth GOP senator to have announced his retirement ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans also will have primary fights and Democratic challenges in North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Alabama next year.