“After 14 general election victories – three for the county office, seven for the United States House of Representatives and four statewide elections – I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate next year,” Blunt announced in a video message.
The unexpected announcement marks the recent decision not to seek re-election by a pragmatic GOP Senator willing to rip-off in the post-Trump era as the Republican Party grapples with its future.
Even without a reigning Republican, the seat is unlikely to be competitive for Democrats. While Blunt defeated Democrat Jason Kander by less than 3 percentage points in 2016, Missouri is an increasingly republican state. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill lost nearly 6 percentage points in 2018, and Trump won around 57% of the vote in Show-Me state in 2020.
Blunt, a close ally of Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, has a long history in Congress and a deep understanding of the institution.
He is currently the Senator from Missouri and was elected to the Senate in 2010.
Blunt serves in a leadership role as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee and as the senior Republican member of the Senate Rules Committee, a position that gives him a lot of power and influence behind the scenes of the inner workings of the Chamber.
As senior Republican on the rules committee, Blunt worked with his Democratic counterpart Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota to reform the way Congress deals with sexual harassment issues among its own employees.
While Blunt’s Missouri colleague Senator Josh Hawley was one of the most outspoken Senators in his objection to the counting of some of the votes, Blunt did not participate in the effort and played a key role in the formal change of power as one of the narrators who read ballots on January 6 and the election as chairman of the Joint Congress Committee for Opening Ceremonies.
Previously, he was also active in the management of the House of Representatives.
In his video message, Blunt said, “I’ve tried to do my best in every job Missourians have allowed me. With nearly 12,000 votes in Congress, I was sure I wasn’t right every time except you make that decision really based on the information you have at that point in time. “
There are a number of potential GOP candidates for Blunt’s seat, including U.S. Representatives Ann Wagner and Jason Smith, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe and former Governor Eric Greitens. Their representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Republican strategist from Missouri told CNN that Schmitt would be “very likely” to run for the Senate in 2022 and assess “the interests of his supporters.”
“The Missouri Republican Party is grateful that we have such a deep bank of strong Conservatives ready to step forward and serve the people of Missouri,” Charlie Dalton, Missouri GOP executive director, told CNN. “In August next year, voters will have to decide who they think will best represent them in the Senate, and we look forward to keeping Senator Blunt’s seat in a Republican seat in November.”
So far, three Missouri Democrats – former Senator Scott Sifton, Navy veteran Lucas Kunce, and activist Tim Shepard – have submitted bids for the 2022 Senate. McCaskill and Kander reiterated Monday that they will not run for the seat.
This story was updated on Monday with further developments.