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With Roy Blunt retiring, the count of fleeing Republican senators is now five

And then there were five.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri announced Monday that he will not seek reelection in 2022.

“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,” the senator said.

Blunt, 71, added, “I want to thank my family and thank the great team that came together to help me work for you. Most importantly, thanks to Missourians, whether you voted for me or not, for the opportunity to work for you and a better future for our state and our country.”

Blunt’s announcement makes for a total of five GOP senators who say they will not run in the next Senate election cycle. The Missouri lawmaker joins Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Richard Burr of North Carolina, and Richard Shelby of Alabama.

Obviously, this is bad news for Republicans.

As five GOP senators are headed now for the exit, out of 20 Republican-held seats on the ballot next year, not a single Democratic senator has signaled any similar desire for retirement. Further, there may be more than just five GOP retirements ahead of the next Senate election. Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, for example, haven’t decided yet whether they will stick around for another term. Adding an additional headache for Republican Senate leadership is the fact that former President Donald Trump is calling for a primary of Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

And this is to say nothing of the fact that the Senate seat held for now by Blunt is not quite a lock for Republicans. Indeed, the GOP lawmaker’s challenger in 2016, former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, lost by nearly 3 percentage points, which is not too shabby for a Democrat running against a Republican incumbent in a fairly red state.

One thing the GOP may have going for it in 2022 is that New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu is “definitely open” to running for the U.S. Senate.

“I am open to it,” the governor said in an interview last month. “We haven’t completely shut the door. Look, I’ve got kids to put through college. I try not to think about public service as a career. It’s really about how we should be tithing our time.”

He added, “I have to look at what is the job in the Senate? Does it fit my skill set of good management and all that?”

Considering the Sununus are practically royalty in New Hampshire, the governor’s entry in the Senate race, should he go through with it, would be good news indeed for Republicans in Washington.

But even this may not be enough to keep the GOP from being pushed all the way to the back of the chamber as the Democratic Party, which may very well expand its control of the Senate in the coming election, is given a free hand to implement President Biden’s agenda.

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