Ashcroft declines run to replace Blunt in Missouri

Ashcroft declines run to replace Blunt in Missouri
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Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R) announced Wednesday he will not run next year for the open Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRoy Blunt has helped forge and fortify the shared bonds between Australia and America The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R-Mo.).

Ashcroft, the son of former U.S Attorney General John Ashcroft, would have been a top contender to replace Blunt, a member of GOP leadership who announced his retirement Monday. Ashcroft said he appreciated the support he’s received regarding a potential Senate run but that he and his wife have decided to stay in Missouri.

“After intense, prayerful considerations we have decided to remain devoted to the work Missouri voters have entrusted to me as secretary of state,” he said in a statement. “Our hearts are in Missouri and we cherish the opportunity to continue raising our family here. Service to Missourians is a profound privilege in which we intend to persist and honor in every respect.”

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“We hope those who pledged support to me will devote their efforts to electing the eventual Republican nominee,” he added. 

Ashcroft's father previously held one of Missouri's two Senate seats from 1995 to 2001, when he joined the George W. Bush administration to lead the Justice Department.

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Blunt’s surprise announcement Monday that he would not seek a third term set off scrambling among both Democrats and Republicans.

No Republican has officially announced a bid for Blunt’s seat, but potential hopefuls include Reps. Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerConservative women's group endorses Sarah Huckabee Sanders for Arkansas governor FOSTA is model for reforming Section 230 Navy admiral criticizes defense contractors over lobbying efforts MORE (Mo.) and Jason SmithJason Thomas SmithHouse panel advances .5T spending bill Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Trump unhappy with Guilfoyle backing Greitens: report MORE (Mo), Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Scott Sifton, gay rights activist Tim Shepard and Marine veteran Lucas Kunce have all announced bids. 

Blunt’s seat is expected to stay in the GOP’s hands. While Missouri was once known as a battleground, it has shifted firmly to the right in recent cycles, handing former President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE double-digit victories in 2016 and 2020.

“The NRSC will work tirelessly to ensure Senator Blunt’s successor will uphold his legacy of free enterprise and small government and we will hold this seat. Any candidate who supports the Democrats’ socialist, big government agenda will struggle to find votes in Missouri, a state that Donald Trump won four months ago by more than 15 points,” Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), said in a statement Monday. 

Democrats currently control the Senate by a 50-50 margin, with Vice President Harris handing the party the majority with her tie-breaking vote. Republicans only need to flip a net of one seat to win back the chamber, and the GOP is looking to go on offense given that the party in the White House typically loses seats in the first midterm of a new administration.

However, Blunt is the fifth GOP senator to announce his retirement, marking the latest blow to Republicans’ effort to reclaim the Senate. The GOP is defending 20 seats overall heading into 2022, including open seats in North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. And Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley announces reelection bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R-Iowa) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Liberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol MORE (R-Wis.) have yet to announce if they’ll seek reelection in their swing states.