Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2022, making him the fifth sitting Republican senator to leave a seat up for grabs next year, potentially giving Democrats a boost in their efforts to hold or expand their 50-50 hold on the Senate.
Blunt broke the news in a YouTube video that showed him standing in front of a dairy barn where he said his parents had once worked milking cows. “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.
The Republican retirement trend began early with Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina announcing in 2016 that if he won reelection to his fourth term, it would be his last. Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania announced his plans for retirement last year, with Senator Rob Portman of Ohio and Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama both declaring their intent to leave earlier this year.
Blunt’s seat opening up has prompted speculation as to who might run, particularly on the Democratic side. Former senator Claire McCaskill, who lost reelection to Senator Josh Hawley, quickly addressed suggestions that she run again, tweeting “To all that are asking: thank you to the many who have said kind things. But I will never run for office again.” Jason Kander, former Missouri secretary of State and a previous challenger of Blunt’s, also declined to jump into the race, citing his work for Veterans Community Project, a veterans support group, adding in a tweet, “I’ll campaign for the Dem nominee!”
Republicans may have to defend a sixth open seat as well: Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is believed to be considering a possible exit and said in a call to reporters on Friday that his previous promise to only run for two terms is, “probably my preference now.”
At this point, no Democratic senator that is up in 2022 has announced retirement.