Senator Roy Blunt says he will not run again


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ARI SHAPIRO, HTE:

Another Senate Republican has said he will not stand for re-election in 2022. Today’s announcement by Roy Blunt of Missouri has sparked a stampede among Republican officials in that state who fear a confrontational primary does stake a safe GOP seat for Democrats. Jason Rosenbaum of St. Louis Public Radio has more.

JASON ROSENBAUM, BYLINE: In a web video where he ticked off a litany of accomplishments during a career dating back to the 1970s, Roy Blunt uttered these words that ignited the political world of Missouri.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

ROY BLUNT: I ​​won’t be running for re-election to the United States Senate next year.

ROSENBAUM: Blunt is a powerful figure in Missouri politics and a member of the GOP Senate leadership. But his political stock here may have taken a hit when he chose not to oppose President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, drawing criticism from some Trump supporters, including former Gov. Eric Greitens .

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

ERIC GREITENS: We’ve seen Senator Blunt criticize President Trump, criticize his administration, kiss Joe Biden.

ROSENBAUM: The prospect of Greitens becoming a U.S. Senator worries some Republicans in Missouri, especially since he stepped down in 2018 amid a sex scandal. Others, like GOP activist Chris Arps, believe Missouri is now so red that a controversial primary won’t tip the race towards the Democrats.

CHRIS ARPS: It’s going to be quite a melee in 2022. 2022 seemed like kind of a sleepy election. I don’t think so now.

ROSENBAUM: In addition to Greitens, Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, US Representative Jason Smith, and Attorney General Eric Schmitt could show up. Former Missouri Republican Party Leader Jean Evans said anyone who connects with Trump will get a boost.

JEAN EVANS: Whoever the candidate is, he’s going to really want to get Trump’s approval for the primary because it’s such a big deal in a Missouri primary.

ROSENBAUM: Whether Democrats can break the GOP’s grip on Missouri might depend on whether a flawed Republican candidate makes it to the primary.

For NPR News, I’m Jason Rosenbaum in St. Louis.

(SOUNDBITE OF STEVE MOORE’S “BELOVED EXILE”) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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