Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri announced Monday that he’ll retire at the end of his term in 2022, marking the latest high-profile Republican departure as the party seeks to regain the Senate majority in next year’s midterm elections.
Blunt, a member of Senate Republican leadership, has been a fixture in GOP politics for decades both at the statewide and national level. He served in the House for 14 years in a number of leadership positions before his election to the Senate in 2010.
“In every job Missourians have allowed me to have, I’ve tried to do my best. In almost 12,000 votes in the Congress, I’m sure I wasn’t right every time. But you really make that decision based on the information you have at the time,” Blunt said in a video announcement, adding that after 14 general elections to various offices, “I won’t be a candidate for reelection to the United States Senate next year.”
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Blunt’s announcement comes ahead of the 2022 midterm elections in which both parties will be vying for control of the Senate, which is locked in a 50-50 split with a narrow Democratic majority. Republicans held the Senate majority for the past six years until they lost two seats in Georgia earlier this year. They only need to win one seat to regain control but Republicans are on defense in more states than Democrats.
While Democrats have had electoral success at the statewide level, Missouri has become a tougher reach for the party in recent years.
Democrats fielded a competitive challenger to Blunt in 2016, but former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander lost by less than 3 percentage points. By 2018, GOP Sen. Josh Hawley defeated then-Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill by nearly 6 percentage points. And during the past two presidential elections, former President Donald Trump won Missouri by double-digit margins.
Blunt, 71, didn’t attribute an exact reason for his departure from the government. But it comes at a time when partisanship has reached new heights in Congress as the Republican Party grapples with its future in the post-Trump era.
He’s the latest Republican senator to announce his retirement from the Senate in 2022, following Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio and Richard Shelby of Alabama. With the exception of Shelby, all of the retiring senators hail from swing states that’ll be a critical part of the path to winning the Senate majority next year.
Plus, a few other Republicans are considering retiring next year, including Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who most recently served as president pro tempore before Republicans lost the majority in January.
Either potential retirement will have major implications for both the Republican Party and the battle for the majority.