OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
In another blow to the establishment Republican Party, a top senator has announced he will not campaign for election in 2022.
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt made the announcement on Monday, marling another high profile retirement for Senate Republicans, CNN reported.
“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,” he said in a video message.
“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,” he said.
The unexpected announcement marks the latest decision not to seek reelection by a pragmatic GOP senator willing to reach across the aisle in the post-Trump era as the Republican Party grapples with its future.
GOP Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Richard Burr of North Carolina have all indicated they do not intend to run for reelection. So far, no Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2022 have announced plans to retire.
Even without an incumbent Republican, the seat isn’t likely to be competitive for Democrats. While Blunt defeated Democrat Jason Kander in 2016 by fewer than 3 percentage points, Missouri is an increasingly Republican state. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill lost by almost 6 percentage points in 2018, and Trump won about 57% of the vote in the Show-Me state in 2020.
Blunt, a close ally of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, has a long history of serving in Congress and a deep understanding of the institution.
But even as Sen. Blunt is entrenched in the establishment party of the Republican Party he did vote to acquit Donald Trump in both of his impeachment trials.
“I said before this trial started that I believe the constitutional purpose for presidential impeachment is to remove a president from office, not to punish a person after they have left office. None of the arguments presented changed my view that this was an unconstitutional proceeding. Impeachment is not a tool that should be used to settle political scores against a private citizen,” he said in February.
The senator also voted against the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package known as the American Rescue Plan.
“This massive spending bill, and the partisan process by which it was passed, fails the American people. Last year, we worked together – Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate – to pass five bipartisan COVID-19 relief packages to fund the economic and health response to the pandemic. Instead of building on that successful pattern, Democrats rammed through a bill filled with untimely spending and misplaced priorities,” he said.
“The bill spends nearly $2 trillion without taking into account what the unmet needs are and without targeting relief where it’s needed most. Democrats blocked Republican-led efforts to cut unnecessary spending in the bill and focus resources on priorities like reopening schools. The bill is filled with things that have nothing to do with COVID-19 relief. If our Democrat colleagues were confident they could justify spending limited taxpayer dollars on these non-COVID items, they could have made the case in the regular appropriations process. But because they decided to use the budget reconciliation process, we were left with an enormous, reckless, and partisan spending package that I could not support,” he said.