By Jim EllisMarch 10, 2021 — Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) announced via video yesterday that he is not seeking a third term next year. He will conclude an era of elected public service that spanned 14 years in the House in addition to completing a dozen years in the Senate. Prior to his federal career, he served as Missouri’s secretary of state, was the Greene County clerk, ran for governor, and saw his son elected governor.
The Blunt exit brings the number of Republican open Senate seats to five and could soon go to seven if Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) follow suit. Sen. Grassley will turn 89 years of age before the next election, and Sen. Johnson originally made a two-term promise when he first ran in 2010. The other announced GOP retirees are Sens. Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA), Rob Portman (OH), and Richard Shelby (AL).
Without Sen. Blunt in the 2022 race, we can expect a contested Republican primary. Potential candidates include Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the son of former senator and US Attorney General John Ashcroft, and US Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin/St. Louis County), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth/Jefferson City), Sam Graves (R-Tarkio/St. Joseph), Billy Long (R-Springfield), and Jason Smith (R-Salem/Southeast MO) among others.
Resigned Gov. Eric Greitens, who was forced from office due to a sex scandal, was beginning to talk about launching a primary against Sen. Blunt, so in an open-seat situation he will be another person whose name will regularly surface.
We’re seeing almost the opposite response among Democrats. The initial public comments from two of the most well-known Missouri Dems, former Sen. Claire McCaskill and 2016 nominee Jason Kander, who held Sen. Blunt to a tight 49-46 percent win in 2016, both immediately indicated that they will not run in 2022. Thus, a previously announced Senate candidate, former state Sen. Scott Sifton, apparently becomes the early leader for the party nomination.