(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt declined to predict who may run for his seat in 2022 but he did predict one element of next year’s race.
“I think it will work out quicker than people think,” Blunt said. “I’m usually fairly optimistic and often right on these kinds of things so we’ll see how quickly it narrows down.”
The senior Senator from Missouri announced Monday he would not seek re-election. His announcement set off a frenzy with pundits speculating who would attempt to run for Blunt’s seat. While potential candidates and political commentators scramble, Blunt said he’s enjoying the sidelines.
“It’s easier to talk about running for public office than to actually do it,” he said. “The only thing easier than talking about running for public office is criticizing the person who is in office and that’s all part of the process and I’m grateful to have been a part of it.”
His resignation stirred up other political questions too, including what the future of the Republican Party would look like. Blunt is the fifth U.S. Senator to announce he would not seek another term in office. All five of the retiring senators are Republicans and considered more moderate than some of their colleagues. In response to questions about whether the Republican party’s continued shift right in the post-Trump era played a role in his decision, Blunt said no.
“I don’t really see myself as a really sympathetic figure saying, ‘Oh gee, this has gotten so hard,’ or whatever. I’m grateful to be here. I’ve had incredible opportunities because of the people of our state,” Blunt said. “This is going to be a really good year for Republicans. It would have been a good year for me to run. But I think it’s also a good year for whoever is going to follow me to run which I think is one of the obligations of leadership.”
Blunt has had a long and winning record in Missouri politics. He started as a clerk in Greene County in the 1980s before he was elected to state office in 1985 serving as Missouri’s Secretary of State until 1993. From there, Blunt jumped to the national stage spending more than a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Missouri’s 7th congressional district. In 2009, he announced he was leaving behind the House for the Senate. He was sworn into the U.S. Senate in 2011 and Blunt will complete his second term in January 2023.
Following Monday’s announcement, Republican colleagues in Washington D.C. and Missouri issued statements including U.S. Rep. Sam Graves. Graves another longtime Missouri politician.
“Senator Roy Blunt is the single most influential political leader in Missouri this century and the father of the modern Republican Party in Missouri,” Graves said in a statement released Monday.
The Congressman went on to thank Blunt for his leadership, guidance, and friendship.