COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said Monday he will not seek reelection, making him the fifth Republican in the Senate to bow out rather than seek another term in a party searching for direction after President Donald Trump.
Blunt, who turned 71 in January, was widely expected to seek a third term in 2022. Before election to the Senate he served seven terms in the U.S. House. He also served two terms as Missouri’s secretary of state from 1985 to 1993.
Blunt, speaking at an afternoon news conference in Springfield, Missouri, said the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 was not a factor in his decision. He also said he was confident he would have won a third Senate term.
“I felt good about getting elected,” Blunt said. “What I felt less good about whether I wanted to go 26 years in the Congress or 32 years in the Congress and eliminate the other things I might get a chance to do when I leave the Congress.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Blunt’s retirement “a loss for the Republican conference and the entire Senate.”
“In just 10 years in this body, he’s quickly become a true leader, a policy heavyweight, and a driving force behind both key conservative victories and essential bipartisan work,” McConnell said in a statement.
Blunt’s Missouri colleague, Republican Josh Hawley, called Blunt “a Missouri institution.”
“A consummate legislator, Roy has worked tirelessly for the state he loves and has served Missourians with distinction,” Hawley said in a statement.
Blunt is the No. 4 in Senate Republican leadership. The five Senate Republicans not seeking reelection could set up contested primaries highlighting divisions between far-right, Trump-aligned Republicans and the old guard of the party. The others are Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Richard Burr of North Carolina.
Two other Republicans — Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — have not yet said whether they plan to seek reelection.