It’s simply not as much fun being in the Senate when you’re in the minority.
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That seems to be the takeaway from the bevy of Republican senators who have decided that they would rather return to private life than run for another term in office.
Today, yet another GOP incumbent in the Senate announced their departure from the rough and tumble world of campaigning for another six years in the legislative chamber, joining four others of his current colleagues — Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Richard Burr (R-NC) — in declining to seek another term in office.
“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 reelection to the United States Senate next year,” Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) said in a video announcing his decision.
Blunt’s current term runs until 2022, leaving another seat in the closely divided Senate undefended by a Republican incumbent and making it somewhat easier for a Democratic candidate to expand their party’s majority in the next election.
While the opposition party to whichever faction holds the presidency typically gains seats in mid-term elections, the GOP is in a particularly vulnerable position in the 2022 Senate races, defending 20 open incumbent seats to the Democrats 14, including seats in two states that President Biden carried in the most recent election, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Blunt’s home state of Missouri is usually considered solid red, having delivered 57% of its votes to Donald Trump in the last election, and seeing its last Democratic Senator, Claire McCaskill, defeated at the hands of seditionist Josh Hawley in 2018.
Senator Blunt’s opponent in his last matchup, Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who came within three points of winning in 2016, has already announced that he will not run again next year.
“Regarding the Senate in ‘22: Always nice to be asked. Thanks. My decision not to run was never about who I’d run against. I’m the President of @VCP_HQ and we’re building campuses for vets around the USA. Love this work, don’t want a new job. I’ll campaign for the Dem nominee!” Kander tweeted after Blunt’s decison was made public.
Former Senator McCaskill has also announced that she’s not interested in throwing her hat into the race, tweeting out that “I will never run for office again.”
As one of the more moderate, establishment Republicans in the Senate, Blunt will give the more extremist elements in the GOP the opportunity to run another candidate in the MAGA-hatted image of Donald Trump with his departure, further pushing their party to the right.
Democrats in Missouri will have to work hard to find a candidate who can win in a state that leans so red in recent years, but, with the 2022 election still far enough away that the Democrats’ pandemic relief efforts will have plenty of time to put the nation on the right track again, the political landscape could face a significant shift between now and then.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the 2022 Missouri Senate race, the retirement of so many incumbent Republican senators — with both Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) yet to reveal their intentions — presents Democrats with a unique opportunity to expand their majority.
Let’s hope that they make the most of it.
Original reporting by Jordain Carney at The Hill.
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