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Roy Blunt announces retirement: Here’s who might run for open seat

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — After serving more than a decade in the U.S. Senate, Roy Blunt announced on March 8 that he will not be seeking re-election in 2022. 

“Another lesson I learned here: finish strong. And I intend to,” Blunt said. “Thanks for giving me the chance to work for you.”

The senior senator would have been largely favored to win a general election against his yet-unknown Democratic challenger. So far, former state Sen. Scott Sifton, Lucas Kunce, and political newcomer Timothy Shepard have announced their candidacies to be the Democratic nominee, but Blunt’s exit from the race creates significant uncertainty in both parties concerning who will run to succeed him.

Here are some statements from members of both parties about Blunt’s retirement and their potential interest in running for his seat.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) — announced

“I am proud to announce that I am running for U.S. Senate, where I will continue the fight to preserve the conservative policies championed by President Trump that built the strongest economy in American history. ”

Eric Greitens (R) — announced

“I am proud to be a champion of President Trump and his America First Policies that have brought broad based prosperity to the people of Missouri. I am going to continue to fight for those policies once elected to the U.S. Senate from Missouri.”


Former state Sen. Scott Sifton (D) — announced

“Today’s announcement shows just how high the stakes are for Missouri families next year.”

Lucas Kunce (D) – announced

“Roy Blunt may be retiring but the interests that have waged war upon the middle class are stronger than ever in Washington. The same companies that Washington worked with to ship jobs and opportunity out of our state for decades are stronger than ever… while Missouri has had the worst economic recovery from the great recession in the area. The Marine Corps taught me to fight, to lead, and to organize. The fight is now here in Missouri.”

Tim Shepard (D) – announced

“With Blunt out of the race, we now have the opportunity for the people of Missouri to actually choose their candidate. We can end the cycle of ‘king-making,’ where candidates are chosen by a small group at the top of the parties. That doesn’t sound like democracy to me, and it’s the entire reason why I am running. With Blunt out of the race and primaries in both parties, we have an opportunity to restore the democratic process in Missouri.”

Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) — speculating

“I have been receiving significant encouragement from supporters across the state to consider running for U.S. Senate. I will continue talking with supporters, my family and praying about how I might best continue serving Missouri.”

U.S. Congressman Jason Smith (R) — speculating

“I will continue talking to working class families, farmers, and small business owners across our state to see how I can best serve and protect them…”

U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R) — speculating

“Representing your hometown in public service is both humbling and inspiring at the same time. While the Second District is home, I have been proud to work throughout Missouri prior to my time in public service and am humbled by the outpouring of encouragement from folks across our great state today.  I take their outreach seriously, and plan to discuss with my family what the future holds for me in the coming days.”

State Sen. Brian Williams (D) — speculating

“The first time I worked with Sen. Blunt and his office was when he helped our region secure the National Geospatial Agency’s $1.7 billion investment in the City of St. Louis. Back then, I was a young congressional staffer and he was the Junior Senator from Missouri. During that process, Sen. Blunt never let partisanship or posturing stand in the way of achieving a real win for the St. Louis region. It was a lesson in leadership that I carry with me now in the State Senate.

I appreciate the words of support I have received from those encouraging me to explore serving our state in the U.S. Senate. If the extreme fringe of the Republican Party is determined to make Missouri relive past embarrassments from politicians trying to settle old scores, I will do what it takes to make sure Missouri can choose a real leader who won’t back down from a tough fight.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) — speculating

“I rise each day thinking about how I can best serve the people of Kansas City and Missouri, and I will consider over the next several weeks whether that is in a statewide position — something no African American in Missouri has ever done. Today, I remain focused on leading our City through the COVID-19 pandemic and our economic recovery.

“Regardless, Kansas Citians and all Missourians deserve representatives in the U.S. Congress who wake up each day to fight for working families throughout our state, and I thank Congressman Cleaver and Congresswoman Bush for working hard this week to ensure vital relief gets to our communities.”

Elad Gross (D) – speculating

“For years, I’ve taken the two top contenders for United States Senate – Eric Greitens and Eric Schmitt – to court for using their offices and our tax money for personal and political gain. Our government will never function for us when corrupt politicians like that are in charge.

I understand why the people I’ve met throughout Missouri are asking me to run and are interested in the Senate race. I encourage everyone to also look at how our state government is defunding education, making our health care system and vaccine distribution a mess, failing to protect workers and small businesses, letting violent crime rob us of our children, and continuously screwing over poor people. And if you’re as mad as me, whatever your party, I encourage you to run for something.

Our government is failing us, and we need to do a whole lot more than win one office. I’ll do what it takes to get Missouri working for Missourians again.”

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) — declined

“After intense, prayerful consideration we have decided to remain devoted to the work Missouri voters have entrusted to me as secretary of state.”

Gov. Mike Kehoe (R) — declined

“While Claudia and I have been honored by the encouragement and offers of support for me to serve as Missouri’s next US Senator, my true calling remains to work on behalf of Missourians in Missouri as Lieutenant Governor and as a candidate for Governor in 2024.”

Former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D) — declined

“I will never run for office again. Nope. Not gonna happen. Never.”

Former Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) — declined

“I’m the President of Veterans Community Project and we’re building campuses for vets around the USA. Love this work, don’t want a new job.”

Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.

This story has been updated. It was originally published on March 8.