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Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri on Monday became the fifth GOP senator to announce he won’t seek re-election next year, opening another challenge for plans to flip control of the Senate.
Blunt, the No. 4 Senate Republican, announced his decision in a video he tweeted.
“After 14 general election victories — three to county office, seven to the United States House of Representatives and four statewide elections — I won’t be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate next year,” Blunt said.
The 71-year-old senator is chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee.
Incumbent senators are heavily favored for re-election, meaning retirements are seen as a disadvantage. Half of senators are older than 65 and many cling to their seats well into their 80s.
Missouri has trended toward the GOP in presidential politics, but most recently had a Democratic governor in 2017 and a Democratic senator in 2019.
Three other swing-state Republicans are retiring in 2022: Richard Burr of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. Another, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, previously said he will retire in 2022 after serving two terms.
In deep-red Alabama, GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, 86, also is retiring.
So far, no Senate Democrat has said they will retire in 2022.
The Senate is evenly divided, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking ties in favor of Democrats. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says it’s a priority to reclaim the chamber to serve as a check on President Biden’s legislative agenda.
Midterm elections often benefit the party that doesn’t control the White House, and Republicans are expected to target potentially vulnerable Democrats including Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly and Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock.
But Republicans are managing conflicting visions for the party and former President Donald Trump has vowed to get involved to support primary election candidates “who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First.”
Republican incumbents up for re-election in 2022 include Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted to convict Trump at his impeachment trial last month, and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, against whom Trump has urged a primary challenge.
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